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Tus is Alt a"* Chiuil-Mhoir 





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" The Royal Collection 

of Piobaireachd" 






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Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 


His Majesty The King. 

Her Majesty The Queen. 

Her Majesty Queen Alexandra. 

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. 

His Royal Highness The Duke of Connaught, K.G., K.T. 

Her Royal Highness Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll. 

His Royal Highness Prince Arthur of Connaught, K.G., 


Her Royal Highness Princess Arthur of Connaught. 

The Highland Society of London. 

The Royal Caledonian Asylum, Bushey, Herts. 

The Piobaireachd Society. 

His Grace The Duke of Atholl, K.T. 

His Grace The Duke of Hamilton and Brandon. 

Her Grace The Duchess of Hamilton and Brandon. 

His Grace The Duke of Sutherland. 

The Most Honourable The Marquis of Bute. 

The Most Honourable The Marchioness of Bute. 

The Most Honourable The Marquis of Tullibardine, M.V.O., D.S.O., M.P. 

The Most Honourable The Marchioness of Tullibardine. 

8 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

The Right Honourable The Earl of Cassillis. 

The Right Honourable The Earl of Dunmore, V.C. 

The Right Honourable The Earl of Seafield. 

The Right Honourable The Earl of Strathmore. 

The Right Honourable Lord Lovat, K.T., K.C.V.O., D.S.O. 

Lady Margaret MacRae of Feoirlinn, Argyll. 

Captain Colin MacRae of Feoirlinn, Argyll, Royal Bodyguard. 

The Honourable Sir James Sivewright, K.C.M.G. 

Sir George A. Cooper, Bart., Hursley Park, Winchester. 

Kaid Sir Harry MacLean, Tangier, Morocco. 

The Mackintosh of Mackintosh, Moy Hall. 

Sir Thomas Glen-Coats, Bart., Ferguslie Park, Paisley. 

Sir R. Laidlaw, 5 Cripplegate Buildings, Wood Street, London, E.C. 

Colonel Stewart Mackenzie, of Seaforth, Brachan Castle. 

Colonel G. Mackintosh, Keillour Castle, Methven, Perthshire. 

Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap of Ballimore and Ellandonan. 

Major Malcolm Murray, Comptroller to the Household of H.R.H. The Duke of 

Connaught, K.G., K.T. 
Major Bernard C. Green, 89 Addison Road, Kensington, London, W. 
Captain W. Home Drummond-Moray of Abercairny. 
Captain G. M'L. Sceales, 91st Highlanders. 

Captain J. A. Chisholm, Assistant Secretary, Highland Society of London. 
Lieut. C. M. Usher, Gordon Highlanders. 
John Bartholomew, Esq., of Glenorchard. 
Ian Bullough, Esq., Killinardrish, Co. Cork. 
J. MacKillop Brown, Esq., 12 Hyde Park Square, London. 
W. D. Graham Menzies, Esq., Hallyburton, Coupar-Angus. 
George Rodger, Esq., 75 Fitzjohn's Avenue, Hampstead, London. 
J. Arthur, Esq., Montgomerie, Tarbolton, Ayrshire. 
Miss Kirk, Havenside, 33 De Cham Road, St. Leonards-on-Sea. 
Mrs. J. Macalister, Killean, Tayinloan, Argyll. 
The Caledonian Society of London. 
The Caledonian Club, London. 

J. Stewart Seggie, C.A., F.S.A.A., 22 Midmar Gardens, Edinburgh. 
W. A. M. Murray, C.A., 18 Cluny Place, Edinburgh. 
S. H. C. Kerr, C.A., Lixmount Villas, Trinity, Edinburgh. 

List of Patrons, Patronesses, and Subscribers 

T. A. Mowat, C.A., 3 Whitehouse Loan, Edinburgh. 

G. F. Badger, Ladywell, Corstorphine, Edinburgh. 

G. M. Fraser, Public Library, Aberdeen. 

Malcolm R. Grant, Rosario de Santa Fe, Argentina. 

A. Leslie Grant, Rosario de Santa Fe, Argentina. 

James Grant, President, Clan Grant Society, Glasgow. 

James Grant, Rothes. 

Alexander Grant, Strathdon. 

Lewis Grant, Lettoch, Kirkcaldy. 

Wm. Grant, 13 Howard Lane, Putney, London. 

Colonel F. C. Grant, Central India Horse. 

Mrs. A. M. Grant, Sherborne House, Sherborne, Dorset. 

Dr. Cumming Grant, 48 Albany Street, London. 

James W. Grant, 6 Great Western Road, Glasgow. 

Colonel A. C. Grant, 90 Great George Street, Glasgow. 

John Marr Grant, Atholl Gardens, Glasgow. 

R. S. Grant, Queen Street, Glasgow. 

John M. Grant, 5 Archibald Place, Edinburgh. 

Peter Henderson, Bagpipe Maker, Glasgow. 

J. G. Hopkinson, iia Dee Street, Aberdeen. 

A. E. T. Howell, 5 Summerfield, Leith. 

R. G. Lawrie, Bagpipe Maker, Renfield Street, Glasgow. 

James M' Isaac, Solicitor, Elgin. 

Pipe-Major R. Mackenzie, Gordon Castle, Fochabers. 

Hector Mackenzie, Vancouver, British Columbia. 

Hew Morrison, LL.D., Edinburgh. 

The Mitchell Library, Glasgow. 

The Public Library, Dundee. 

The Public Library, Edinburgh. 

The Public Library, Inverness. 

The Rev. Neil Ross, MA., B.D., Edinburgh. 

The Misses Simpsons, 38 Gilmore Place, Edinburgh. 

James Sime Waterston, 35 George Street, Edinburgh. 

J. D. R. Watt, L.D.S., East London, South Africa. 

Pipe-Major Wm. Webster, Affleck Street, Aberdeen. 

A. E. Barker, Castle Mills, Edinburgh. 

io Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

R. B. Gardner, Conington Hall, Cambridge. 

Alexander Johnston, Manager, Castle Mills, Edinburgh. 

James Ogilvie, ii Strawberry Bank, Dundee. 

W. Sutherland MacKay, S.S.C., 3 Clifton Terrace, Edinburgh. 

Donald MacDonald, The Manse, Ullapool, Ross. 

J. A. MacDonald, Fairlie, New Zealand. 

Neil MacCormick, 6 Burns Street, Glasgow. 

Alex. MacIver, Loch Eiltside, Lochailart. 

W. Brown Robertson, Dudhope House, Dundee. 

J. P. MacLeod, 5 High Street, Tain. 

Robert MacNab, Beaconsfield, Dunoon. 

Angus Livingstone, Gruline, Isle of Mull. 

Wm. B. Wilson, Piper, Black Watch, India. 

D. A. Cameron, Southland, New Zealand. 

A. M'Swean, Maclean, N.S.W., Australia. 

Alasdair Roy, United States, America. 

J. Smith, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. 

Dan Gollan, India. 

J. S. Duncan, Transvaal, South Africa. 

Miss Jessie Johnstone, 221 York Street, So. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. 

J. Thomson, Wingello, N.S.W., Australia. 

Dr. R. Macdonald Robertson, 53 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh. 

Wm. Murray, Suva, Fiji Islands. 

Robert Cran, 7A Mid Street, Keith. ' 


It will be readily admitted by all lovers of the Great Highland Bagpipe that the 
definition of Ceol Mor has been passed over and neglected, not only in the earliest 
stages of its infancy, but by the present enlightened age. 

Although we have many printed volumes of piobaireachd, yet there is not a 
book in existence that solves the many difficulties which lie before the student. 

It has been the great desire of my life to prepare a work that will in some degree 
make piobaireachd as clear to the youth of twelve years of age as to the student of 
mature years, and if the present work will be of any assistance to those who wish 
to study this ancient art, in my own heart I will rejoice. 

Piobaireachd is an art which stands in a very high position. It influences the 
thoughts, and has a power over the emotions of the Highland heart that no other 
type of music can equal. 

The birth of the Chief is heralded by this peculiar music, and, strange to say, the 
notes of the heart-rending Lament lull him to sleep while he closes his eyes in death. 

The volume is dedicated by permission to the Noblemen and Gentlemen of The 
Highland Society of London, by whose patronage the art of Ancient Piobaireachd 
has been rescued from being lost and forgotten, at a time when its performance was 
practically looked upon as illegal, after the rising of '45. 

I take this opportunity of thanking the Patrons, Patronesses, and Subscribers 
who have shown their practical interest in the classical music of the Great Highland 
Bagpipe, which it is earnestly hoped will no longer be proclaimed a lost art, or its 
construction declared to be a mystery. 


Edinburgh, 1st July, 1915. 


Several volumes have already appeared on the history and origin of the bagpipe. 
The development and evolution of the instrument itself have been traced with more 
or less success ; but the art of piobaireachd, apart altogether from the instrument, 
has never yet been dealt with. This is the first attempt ever made to place the 
classical music of the Great Highland Bagpipe on a scientific basis ; to define its 
nature and construction ; and to raise it to the high position which it undoubtedly 

It is said that unless one can speak Gaelic one can never understand or hope to 
play piobaireachd. I would not like to go as far as to say that, but before anyone 
could describe this ancient and powerful form of Highland bagpipe-music, he must 
necessarily be born in the Highlands. Happily I was born there, where my home 
was surrounded by thousands of acres of moorland and lofty mountains. I have 
traversed hundreds of miles on the lonely moors, and sat in the corry listening to the 
dimpling stream. I have reached the summit of many of Scotland's majestic bens, 
and wandered in the green dells where the zephyrs moan, and the Chief lies cold 
beneath the sod. I have lived in the glen where the peat fire burns brightly in the 
humble shieling ; where the true Highlanders, both men and maidens fair, dance 
merrily to the piper's magic notes ; and where the thundering torrents of the angry 
Spey rush on to the sea. I have played my piob-mhor on the banks of this great 
river till the notes of " Craigellachie " echoed and re-echoed from the surrounding 
hills. By perseverance and earnest study I have been able to understand and 
cultivate ancient piobaireachd, which has been handed down by the masters of old 
who lived in the dim and distant ages of the past. The best way to understand 
piobaireachd an properly is not merely to look over or learn to play them by heart, 
but to copy them out. A piper may play every piobaireachd that he can lay hands 
on and still be quite ignorant of their construction. A knowledge of the theory of 
music is also necessary in order to be able to write tunes according to the time- 
signatures and tie the notes properly. I have copied almost one thousand full pages 
of piobaireachd in twelve years in my spare time. By doing so, and spending hour 
after hour studying, revising, and re-revising them, I have served my apprenticeship 
and gained my experience in the art of piobaireachd. 

14 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

Scattered references are to be found in the works of various writers regarding 
the history of several tunes, but there is not a book of any description that has ever 
described or defined Ceol Mor. The only help procurable is from collections of 
ancient piobaireachd in old MSS. and print, and a minute study of them alone. 
One of the reasons for the decay of the composition of piobaireachd may be that many 
who have the knowledge have not got time. Hence their opportunity is lost. Others 
do compose to some extent, but their compositions never come to light for various 
reasons. Again we have the professional class who spend the whole of their energies 
on performance alone. Thus we may say that the future of piobaireachd is doomed, 
and that its construction, or internal form, is in danger of being lost and forgotten 
for ever. For hundreds of years the composition of piobaireachd has been neglected, 
and it has not only been whispered, but, may I venture to say, that it has been 
proclaimed to be a lost art. 

If such be the truth, is it a time for us, the descendants of a great piping race, 
to remain content with a name as performers only, while we allow the construction 
of piobaireachd to remain a mystery and fall into oblivion ? 

Let us remember that Scotland is the home of the Great Highland Bagpipe, 
and that it is our duty to cultivate its music. We should strive to produce a work 
that will make it clear and simple to all ; remove the stumbling-blocks that have 
been hindrances in the past ; and stir up the piping world to perfection in theory, 
as well as to excellence in practice. 

The recent revival which has taken place in the Gaelic language is now beginning 
to show signs of fruitfulness, and if we put our thoughts into action, in the near 
future we shall see piobaireachd flourish as it has never done before. 



I. The Origin of Piobaireachd, 

II. The Teaching and Study of Piobaireachd, 

III. The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd, 

IV. Pioba:reachd Variations, 
V. Analysis of Syllabic Sounds or Echoes in Piobaireachd, 

VI. Ce6l MOr as a Profession,.. 

VII. Rudiments of Music so far as Applicable to the Highland Bagpipe, 

VIII. Tuning of the Great Highland Bagpipe, 

IX. Tuning Preludes, 

X. The Growth of Piobaireachd and its Preservation, 

XI. The Classification of Ceol M6r, 

XII. Dictionary of Gaelic, English, and Italian Terms which may b 
Applied to Highland Bagpipe Music, 

XIII. The Creators of Ancient Piobaireachd, 

XIV. The Copyright of Piobaireachd or Pipe Music, 

XV. The Great Highland Bagpipe and its Component Parts, . . 

XVI. The Great Highland Bagpipe and its Origin, 

XVII. How to Keep the Highland Bagpipe in Perfect Order, .. 

XVIII. The Full Highland Dress and its Influence, 

XIX. The Piper's Duties in Peace and War, 








Chapter I 

PIOBAIREACHD is said to be a wild and barbarous music, which is very difficult 
to describe. The meaning of the word piobaireachd is pipe-music. It is 
generally known by the genuine Highlander, and particularly by pipers, as a 
special type of music. Perhaps piobaireachd might be better defined as " Ceol 
Mor," or " The Great Music of the Celt." Bagpipe music is divided into two classes, 
viz. : " Ceol Mor " and " Ceol Aotrom." Ceol Mor means the Great Music, which 
is piobaireachd, and Ceol Aotrom means the Lighter Music, or Marches, Strathspeys, 
and Reels. It is Ceol Mor only, the classical music of the Great Highland Bagpipe, 
that I intend to deal with in this work. 

The origin of piobaireachd may be as difficult to trace as the Great Highland 
Bagpipe itself. The pipe is familiar to most of the European nations, but the Great 
Highland Bagpipe is without doubt purely of Celtic or Scottish origin. Its use in 
the Highlands of Scotland has been traced as far back as the year ioo a.d. This 
is as far back as traditional or Highland history takes us, but we have good reason 
to believe that the Great Highland Bagpipe existed in the Highlands hundreds of 
years prior to the year ioo a.d., although it was not recorded in history in the very 
earliest years of its infancy. It was quite impossible for it to grow momentarily, or 
to have been handed to the Highlander as a fairy gift, with all its charm and power 
of moving the Highland heart to joy, sorrow, or even the frenzy of battle. 

Piobaireachd being the classical, or real music of the Great Highland Bagpipe, 
the music must therefore be of as great antiquity as the instrument itself, although 
no attempt has ever been made to trace the origin of piobaireachd, or to define its 
construction. We have never heard of any particular race of Highland pipers who 
claimed, or could claim, to be the originators of piobaireachd, and doubtless this 
point will remain a mystery for ever. Those who are imbued with Highland fervour 
for our ancient customs will understand that it is not to be wondered at, that such a 
great music as piobaireachd was gifted to the Highlander alone, by Nature herself. 
There is little or no doubt that the Highlander got his " Ceol Mor " from the original 
sound, the echo, its doubling, its trebling, and its quadrupling. Piobaireachd and its 
variations might also have been derived from the birds twittering in the surrounding 

1 8 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

trees ; the wind whistling in the glens, and over the mountain tops ; the waves 
dashing against the rocks on the shores of our Highland home ; or the stream, with 
its gentle murmur, which sounds in the sensitive ear of the Highlander in a musical 
form. The great river dashing down the precipice supplies material for a Theme 
and suitable variations. The chime of the church bells, the roar of battle, and the 
clatter of steel, all suggest Themes or foundations for this species of great music. 

Piobaireachd is a class of music second to none as regards its power of moving 
the Highland heart. It may be compared to wireless telegraphy, in that it is the 
unseen communication between the very inner soul of the Highlander and the 
outward world. The power to create piobaireachd is a gift as important as the 
magic touch of the artist who can paint his subject on the canvas ; or of the sculptor 
who carves out .of stone the image of a human body, perfect in form and appearance. 
When the painter and sculptor are finished with their achievement, they are still 
conscious of the lack of one thing, and if they were to make the true exclamation on 
the completion of their work, would it not be the most important thing of all, viz. : 
" Alas ! it is void of life." Therefore the artist and sculptor can impart everything 
to their new creation except life. The composer of piobaireachd has special gifts in 
this peculiar art, just the same as his fellow-craftsmen have in painting and sculpture. 
He also transmits his compositions to paper, as the artist paints his subject on the 
canvas. He hews his original Theme or Ground-work out of the material which he 
gets from nature, as the sculptor carves his image out of stone. The artist first of 
all gets his canvas, his brush, and paints, then he draws a rough outline of the subject 
he is about to paint. This may be termed the Theme or Ground of his work just begun. 
He then gives it the first coat of paint, being the second step, or variation in the 
production of his picture. He still paints on, with more life-like colours, step by 
step, until he has completed his task. The sculptor gets the stone which he has 
chosen suitable for his purpose. He marks it off roughly, and carves away the 
largest pieces round about it, giving him then the Theme or Ground-work of his 
image. He uses finer chisels, and carves on until it appears in better shape. This 
resembles the First Variation of his work of art. He, like the painter, goes on with 
his work, using still finer instruments until it is finished. 

The composer of piobaireachd gets his chanter and prepares the Theme or Urlar, 
which has been for some time developing in his mind. He transmits it to paper. 
Then he prepares his First Variation, and its Doubling, the Taorluath and its Doubling, 
and the Crunluath and its Doubling, which completes his tune. When he looks at 
it as the artist or sculptor looks at his painting and image, there seems to be no 

The Origin of Piobaireachd 19 

life in it either. But when the performer of piobaireachd lifts his great Highland 
warpipe, and fills the bag under the arm with his warm breath, and plays the tune 
just created, he is unlike the painter or sculptor. The creator of piobaireachd can 
claim that his production has got life, which theirs lack ; life, that can touch the 
finer emotions of the Highland heart to a more extreme degree than either painting or 

We have on record to this day in the annals of our Scottish history the names 
of several great composers and performers of piobaireachd. The MacCrimmons, 
MacArthurs, Maclntyres, MacKays, and MacKenzies were all famous for their 
accomplishments in the ancient art. The first race of pipers that we can trace in 
the Highlands of Scotland was the MacCrimmon. Although they lay no claim to be 
the originators of piobaireachd, nevertheless the oldest compositions can be traced 
back to them. We have no authentic proof at what date the first of the MacCrimmons 
became hereditary piper to the MacLeods of Dunvegan, Skye. It must, however, 
be admitted that it was at a very early period, because some of their compositions 
are said to date as far back as the thirteenth century, if not further. From this 
great race of pipers all the succeeding performers already mentioned have descended. 
The MacArthurs, Maclntyres, MacKays, and MacKenzies were all more or less 
taught by the MacCrimmons. The Boreraig school or college of piobaireachd was 
instituted by the MacCrimmons themselves. It is situated some eight miles from 
Dunvegan Castle, the hereditary Seat of the MacLeods of MacLeod. The Mac- 
Crimmons were a well-educated race, and the greatest composers of piobaireachd 
that have ever lived. They invented and perfected a system of sol-fa, or verbal 
notation, called " Canntaireachd." This style of notation can only be attributed 
to the MacCrimmons themselves. Even their pupils did not seem to have understood 
a great deal about such a mysterious system of writing and teaching piobaireachd. 
The MacCrimmons were a more artful race than they got credit for, because their 
scale never seems to have been given away by any of them. It is almost an absolute 
fact that their real secrets regarding the construction of canntaireachd must have 
died with them. The MacArthurs, who were taught at Boreraig, were the next in 
superiority to the MacCrimmons in the art of piobaireachd. They afterwards 
established a school of piping of their own. It is said that the MacArthurs wrote 
their piobaireachd in a similar manner to that of the MacCrimmon canntaireachd, 
but that they used different vocables. 

This raises the question in our minds to-day — Did the MacArthurs, who were 
taught by the MacCrimmons, thoroughly understand the Boreraig system of 

20 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

canntaireachd notation ? It seems to us that they did not. The MacCrimmons, 
who were the originators of canntaireachd, must have perfected this system of 
syllabic notation, and also the rules which guided them in its formation. In this 
we have proof and good reason to believe that canntaireachd was a secret to the 
MacCrimmons alone. The various teachers who succeeded the MacArthurs did 
not seem to have used the verbal notation to a great extent, or at least we have no 
definite record of it. Many pipers are fully aware that in our time teachers of 
piobaireachd, as a rule, sing or chant the tunes to their pupils while they are being 
taught, but they have the tune before them in the staff notation at the same time. 
The staff notation is now universal. Some pipers say that piobaireachd would be 
enhanced if the old system of verbal notation were brought back to use. On the 
other hand, our present-day teachers maintain that the verbal notation can never 
take the place of the staff notation for accuracy in writing and teaching piobaireachd. 
The staff notation gives the time and everything pertaining to music in minute 
detail, and is most accurate ; whereas the verbal notation does not give the time 
clearly, nor is the duration of the notes as clear to the eye as in staff notation. The 
pupil took the duration of the notes from the chanter, or chanting of the teacher, 
and not from the tune written in the sol-fa notation before him. Although those 
who have a love for the old verbal notation would be inclined to study and bring it 
back to use, it would be almost needless to do so if the great majority of pipers were 
to condemn its appearance. Nowadays, as a rule, the piper has to pay for his own 
tuition, and no one can compel him to use any system of notation other than that 
selected by himself. 

As far as we can trace back to the olden days, the " verbal notation " seems to 
be the first system of musical notation used in recording piobaireachd. There is 
no scale or vestige of this notation to be found in print, or MS. written by the 
hand of a MacCrimmon. The Boreraig verbal notation is entirely dead, for no man 
living can prove that he understands it. No one can produce the actual MacCrimmon 
scale or key, or say that they have even seen it. Captain Neil MacLeod of 
Gesto published a small book in the year 1828, containing some twenty-one tunes. 
He says it is an example of the MacCrimmon canntaireachd. This booklet is known 
as the " Gesto Collection of Canntaireachd." It is quite obvious that Captain 
MacLeod was not a piper, as is proved by the statements of men who lived in his time. 
Such being the case, it is not to be wondered at that he did not thoroughly understand 
the mysteries of the MacCrimmon verbal notation, because the tunes published in 
the Gesto collection are void of uniformity. That is to say, the same note is not 

The Origin of Piobaireachd 21 

always represented by the same syllable. This proves that Gesto's system of writing 
canntaireachd is not based upon a scientific foundation. Before a system of musical 
notation can be perfect, each note must be expressed by a different syllable. The 
same applies to grace-notes also. Captain MacLeod did not know or possess the 
MacCrimmon scale, or he would have published it along with his examples of 
canntaireachd. Some pipers say that Captain MacLeod of Gesto published his 
book from the old Boreraig notation. It is supposed to be more difficult to under- 
stand than the new and corrected system, which the MacCrimmons perfected at 
a later date. We know that the mysterious hieroglyphics of the Far East were read 
from the inscription on the " Rosetta Stone," but no such inscription has as yet 
been unearthed to enable us to read the real MacCrimmon verbal system of notation. 
The question is — Where did the pipers who profess to know, get the scale or key to 
enable them to read or understand any of the systems ? This question remains 
unanswered. Although the MacCrimmon canntaireachd is not understood, it cannot 
be condemned as being imperfect or irregular. From the MacCrimmon compositions 
in piobaireachd which have been handed down to us, it can be seen that they are 
perfect in form. This proves that their verbal system of musical notation must 
have been perfect also, otherwise their tunes would be irregular in construction. The 
staff notation settings of the MacCrimmon compositions in piobaireachd which we 
possess to-day, were originally taken from the instrumental renderings. They were 
taught and handed down from generation to generation until they were recorded in 
staff notation. It was impossible for the MacCrimmons to have been able to produce 
their compositions perfect in form without a scale. That goes without saying. 
Therefore, I have no hesitation in maintaining that the real MacCrimmon verbal 
notation of Boreraig was based on a scientific foundation, and fulfilled its purpose 
in the olden days as the staff notation does now. The method of transmitting music 
to paper can only be looked upon as a notation. The instrumental rendering should 
always be the same. That is to say, if " MacCrimmon's Sweetheart " were written 
in the verbal notation and in staff notation also, and they were both recorded exactly 
from the same instrumental rendering, then they should both agree with each other 
on comparison, note for note. 

Our thanks are due to Donald MacDonald, bagpipe maker, Edinburgh, who 
claimed to be the first to transmit piobaireachd to regular staff notation. Whether 
this is true or not, Donald MacDonald's book was the first and most extensive 
collection of ancient piobaireachd alone, ever published in the staff notation of that 
time. It was printed about the year 1822. MacDonald was one of the old school, 

22 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

and was a son of John MacDonald, Glenhinisdale, Skye. He was taught piping 
by the MacArthurs, hereditary pipers to Lord MacDonald of the Isles, and was a 
very fine performer on the Great Highland Bagpipe. Donald was appointed piper 
and bagpipe maker to the Highland Society of London. His workshop was in the 
Lawn Market, Edinburgh. The Highland Society of London presented MacDonald 
with a special prize for having produced the greatest number of piobaireachdan set 
in staff notation by himself. At the same time they recommended MacDonald to 
continue his work in the direction of rescuing piobaireachd from being lost and 
forgotten, and to give instructions to any pipers who might desire tuition. Donald 
MacDonald's collection of ancient piobaireachd was re-published by Messrs. J. & R. 
Glen, bagpipe makers, The Mound, Edinburgh, in the year 1855, and is still pro- 
curable from them. It is dedicated to the Noblemen and Gentlemen of the Highland 
Society of London. The volume is handsomely got up. The titles of the tunes are 
given in Gaelic and English, and beautifully engraved in old English, and other 
suitable letters. This style of printing was very costly, and becomes an ancient 
music far better than the ordinary type used at the present day. The stave is 
narrower, which necessitates the notes being a little smaller than is usual, but they 
are quite legible. MacDonald's style of recording the tunes is somewhat different 
from that of other publishers. There are a great many superfluous grace-notes in 
the Urlars given by him in his book. In almost every bar he begins with the G E D 
cadence or grace-notes. Those grace-notes are quite unnecessary, and should not 
occur so often, because they spoil the melody. Of course, MacDonald had many 
difficulties in his way as regards collecting and putting the tunes into shape, which 
alone occupied his spare moments for some fifteen years. This collection was only a 
small portion of the piobaireachd which MacDonald had in his possession. He 
intended to publish the remainder of the tunes which he collected, along with the 
historical notes in connection with them, should his first efforts be appreciated and 
encouraged by performers and lovers of " Ceol Mor. " His second volume never reached 
the printer, as he died before he was able to accomplish the task. Such a valuable 
collection was not lost sight of, however. He sent it to Mr. J. W. Grant of Elchies, 
then in India, and begged Mr. Grant to accept the book. This second part, which 
was in manuscript, was bequeathed to the late Major-General C. S. Thomason by one 
of his aunts. The historical notes pertaining to the tunes were also in General 
Thomason 's possession. Donald MacDonald does not mention in his book whether 
he understood the MacCrimmon verbal notation or not. He writes many of the 
variations in his tunes in a different manner from that in which they are actually 

The Origin of Piobaireachd 23 

played, more especially the Taorluaths and Crunluaths. At the same time he uses 
some very fine specimens of grace-notes, and that alone is of great interest to those 
who study piobaireachd. 

The next collection of piobaireachd which appeared was Angus MacKay's. 
Angus MacKay was a son of John MacKay, piper to MacLeod of Raasay. He was 
born about the year 1813, and in due season was taught to play on the Great Highland 
Bagpipe by his father, and also by MacCrimmon at Boreraig, Skye. Angus MacKay 
having come of a very fine old race of pipers, his musical talent and skill in the art 
of piobaireachd encouraged him to collect and preserve for future generations many 
good specimens of the ancient music of Caledonia. Angus MacKay's collection of 
piobaireachd was published at Edinburgh in the year 1838, and re-published in 
1899 by Messrs. Logan & Company, Inverness. It is dedicated to the Noblemen 
and Gentlemen of the Highland Society of London. Previous to the year 1899 
MacKay's book of piobaireachd was very scarce, and as much as five pounds were 
paid for a copy. I have known of an instance where ten pounds were paid for a 
perfect copy. The first edition was printed with the fine old engraved headings. 
The best copy I have ever seen was in the library at Altyre House, Forres. It 
belonged to Roualeyn Gordon Cumming, the great explorer and big-game hunter. 
It was perfect and well preserved. In fact, some of the pages were never cut. 
Messrs. Logan & Company's edition is printed in excellent style, but the titles of the 
tunes are given in ordinary type. Although they do not look quite so well, yet they 
are very bold and clear. The compiler gives an historical account of all the tunes 
in the volume, and also a description of the various schools of piping established by 
the MacCrimmons, MacKays, and others. To Angus MacKay we are indebted for 
the records of the Highland Society of London's competitions since 1781. Pipers 
cannot fail to find interest in the results of the piping contests of those earlier times. 
The bagpipe competitions of that period were carried on in a far wider and more 
enthusiastic scale than they are now. With a few exceptions the tunes in Angus 
MacKay's book are in good form, although several critics have condemned most of 
them. MacKay was quite conscious of the defects contained in his work, and he 
hoped that the public would treat them with leniency. He did not despise the work 
of other composers and compilers, but prepared and presented to us what was then 
the largest and most superior collection of piobaireachd. Many pipers wrangle over 
the correctness of his tunes, while they forget to ask themselves the question — Could 
we have produced such a magnificent work as this at the time that MacKay presented 
his book to the public, or could we do so even now ? I honestly believe that Angus 

24 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

MacKay noted down many of the tunes as he got them when collecting in the 
Highlands. Although they do not appear to us to be perfect, I do not hesitate to 
say that he had not the presumption to change, or put them into complete form. 
He was the compiler, not the composer, and could not tell what notes should take the 
place of the missing ones. It must be borne in mind that if MacKay had wished 
he could have altered as many of the tunes in his book as he liked, if he wanted to 
spoil them. Fortunately he was a patriotic Highlander who possessed too great a 
love for piobaireachd to perform such an act of injustice. There are errors in his 
work that might have been avoided, but the same occur in every collection of bagpipe 
music. Very few, if any, are perfect. Angus MacKay does away with the super- 
fluous grace-notes in the Urlars and variations that appear in MacDonald's book. 
This is a great improvement, and makes piobaireachd more intelligible. MacKay 's 
tunes are altogether in much better form than MacDonald's. It only stands to 
reason that they would, because MacKay lived in a more enlightened age. At the 
same time, there is no reason why we should despise MacDonald, who came first. 
They both did their best, and no man can do more. They sacrificed time, which 
meant money to them both, as well as the labour and worry attached to their hobby. 
With a few exceptions, such as grace-notes, MacDonald and MacKay both write 
their Taorluaths and Crunluaths in a similar manner, but neither of them writes 
those variations exactly as they are played. Perhaps the best written Crunluath 
in MacKay's book will be found in the " MacLeod's Controversy," page 84, where 
he gives the first note in the movement as a dotted quaver, and the three following 
notes semi-quavers. In many of MacDonald's piobaireachdan he gives the Taorluath 
Fosgailte Variation in common time, with two movements to the bar, thus giving 
each note the same value. Whereas MacKay gives the same variation in common 
time also, but the first three notes are quavers played in the time of two, and the 
final note in the movement is a crotchet, with two movements to the bar. MacKay's 
is the better style of the two, but neither is exactly correct. In the Crunluath Variation 
MacDonald gives four notes in each movement, and two movements to the bar of 
six-eight time. MacKay gives the same number of notes in the movement, and the 
same number of movements to the bar as MacDonald in six-eight time. The only 
difference is that MacDonald's movement is E E F E, with G D G A grace-notes 
between the first two E's, an A grace-note between the second E and F, and an A 
grace-note between the F and the last E. Angus MacKay gives E A E E in his 
movement, with G D G grace-notes between the first E and A, no grace-note between 
the A and second E, and A F A grace-notes between the last two E's. MacDonald 

The Origin of Piobaireachd 25 

writes some of his Crunluath movements differently, with five large notes to the group 
or movement, but the majority of his tunes are written as described. Both give 
the first notes in the Crunluath movements as quavers, the second and third semi- 
quavers, and the last quavers. Neither method is entirely correct as played. Angus 
MacKay also had a second volume of piobaireachd in manuscript, but he did not 
get the length of publishing it. This MS. found its way into the possession of the 
late Major-General C. S. Thomason, author of " Ceol Mor." 

There is also in print at the present day Donald MacPhee's collection of 
piobaireachd, owned by Messrs. Logan & Company, Inverness. There are two 
parts in the publication, and in all thirty-seven tunes. MacPhee was a bagpipe 
maker in Glasgow, and his business is still carried on by Peter Henderson, 24 Renfrew 
Street, Glasgow. It is said that MacPhee spent much of his time in the collection 
and study of piobaireachd, and some of the best pipers of that day gathered and 
played in turn in his shop in the evenings. He gives a good variety of piobaireachd 
in his published work, and many of them do not appear in either MacDonald's or 
MacKay's. MacPhee writes his tunes similar to those of MacKay, but his book 
does not meet with such a ready sale as the latter's. 

Other collections of piobaireachd have appeared at more recent dates. Perhaps 
the two most worthy of description are the late Major-General Thomason's "Ceol 
Mor," and the Piobaireachd Society's collection. 

" Ceol Mor " is the largest and most comprehensive collection of piobaireachd 
ever published. It contains some two hundred and seventy-five tunes. Here we 
have piobaireachd reduced or abbreviated to such an extent that in some instances 
the entire tune can be seen at a glance. Many of the pages in " Ceol Mor " contain 
a complete piobaireachd. The author of " Ceol Mor " was employed for a whole 
lifetime in the preparation of this work. It may well be said that he alone knew 
the experience and labour that it had cost him. The Urlar of each piobaireachd is 
given in full, with the exception of such movements as occur on E, F, D, B, and A. 
In the variations, only the leading notes are given in each movement, which can 
be quite easily understood by anyone who has a fair knowledge of piobaireachd. 
Failing that, the volume includes a key to the abbreviations. Although the book 
contains nearly three hundred tunes, it can be carried in the pocket with perfect 
ease and comfort, thus affording the teacher, the student, or the judge of piobaireachd 
the most valuable assistance. It may be considered as ingenious a system of 
notation in modern times as the verbal notation of the MacCrimmons was in the 
olden days. One thing that may be said to the credit of " Ceol Mor," is that it is 

26 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

reduced and abbreviated in a manner quite impossible in canntaireachd. The 
reason is that there is very little difference in the length of a tune in the verbal 
notation, when transmitted to paper, and piobaireachd written in the full staff 
notation at present in use. To mark the appreciation of his fellow-pipers and 
Highlanders in general, and in order that Major-General Thomason might receive 
personally an expression of their heart-felt gratitude for such an undertaking, he 
was presented with an album containing an illuminated address, and hundreds of 
signatures of his admirers, both at home and abroad. A complimentary dinner was 
organised in June, 1909, in Edinburgh, for that special purpose. This gathering 
consisted of many prominent pipers and enthusiastic Highlanders, and there the 
late General gave an able description of his colossal task. He related how he wrote 
and re-wrote, revised and re-revised the pages of " Ceol Mor," in order that it might 
be perfect. We may rest assured that those ancient pieces will never be lost or 
forgotten so long as there is a copy of " Ceol Mor " to be found. The memory of 
the grand old piobaireachd hero will be ever fresh in our minds while we scan the 
pages of his magnificent work. Lovers of the ancient and noble art of piobaireachd 
cannot but feel grateful to the author of this volume for his untiring efforts to rescue 
so many fine tunes from being lost in oblivion. 

The Piobaireachd Society was instituted some eleven years ago, for the sole 
purpose of cultivating and promulgating the art of piobaireachd alone. They 
adopted the " Ceol Mor " notation for their first test tunes, but as it is not a popular 
system of recording piobaireachd, the following year they returned to the full staff 
notation. This Society has done more for piobaireachd than any body of enthusiasts 
that ever existed. They were fully aware of how the playing of piobaireachd stood 
for generations back. Professional pipers, as a rule, attended competition after com- 
petition, year after year, and played the same old tunes. One is quite safe in saying 
that our very best performers did not go outside of twelve to twenty different pieces. 
This might be considered a wide range, as some competitors never played more 
than half-a-dozen different tunes. In fact, instances have been known where pipers 
have gone the round of the games and did not play three different tunes, 
year in and year out. Their energetic secretary, the late Major William 
Stewart of Ensay, edited the first collection of test tunes in full staff notation 
in the year 1904. Since then some thirty-six tunes have been published in 
five parts. By adopting this method of publishing fresh tunes every year, 
many beautiful piobaireachdan have been played at Oban, Inverness, and 
other places, that were seldom or never heard before at competitions. The 

The Origin of Piobaireachd 27 

Piobaireachd Society have created a new lease of life for this Great Music. They 
offer handsome prizes, and their yearly competitions are always a success. The 
new secretary of the Society is Captain Colin MacRae, of Feoirlinn, Argyll, himself a 
piper and Highland dancer. He takes a deep interest in the work of the Society, 
which is of great service in popularising " Ceol Mor." Captain MacRae possesses 
several valuable piobaireachd MSS., as well as every published work known. He 
is an excellent piobaireachd player, a sound judge, and qualified in every way 
for the important position which he now holds. It was by the recognition and 
patronage of Kings and Princes, and Highland Chieftains that piobaireachd flourished 
in the olden days, and it is by the renewed enthusiasm of our Scottish nobles that 
we hope to see this ancient art attain the high position that it has held in the past. 
The Piobaireachd Society give lessons in piobaireachd as well as prizes for com- 
petition, and they have instructors in Inverness, Oban, Glasgow, and other suitable 
places. The War Office has also established, through the Piobaireachd Society, a 
school of piping for military pipers at Edinburgh, under the tuition of Pipe-Major 
John MacDonald, who is perhaps the world's greatest piobaireachd player. 

Chapter II 

PTOBAIREACHD, as I have already said, is distinguished from the March, 
Strathspey, and Reel by being termed the " Great Music." The MacCrimmons 
would never permit their pupils to play such primitive music as " Ceol 
Aotrom " within their hearing. They thus signified their superiority in the ancient 
art of which they were masters, and proved their ability to judge both classes of 
music. It seems as if that great race of pipers took it for granted that anyone 
could play bagpipe-music of the lighter type, while, on the other hand, the intending 
pupil had to be taught to play piobaireachd. No piper can ever hope to excel in 
the art of piobaireachd playing unless he undergoes a considerable period of 
instruction by a good master. When the MacCrimmon School at Boreraig was at 
its best, each pupil had to study from seven to twelve years in piobaireachd exclu- 
sive!}', and his master defrayed the entire expense of his tuition. In this way many 
good performers were fostered at Boreraig after undergoing such a long time of 
study and practice. In many cases, if not every case, when a Highland Chieftain first 
heard his piper play on returning to his castle, he expressed himself as highly 
pleased with the progress which the pupil had made while at Boreraig, Skye. In 
some cases it is related that the pupil excelled the master in the performance of 
piobaireachd, but this is very doubtful. The great MacCrimmons had a style of 
playing piobaireachd peculiar to themselves, so it is hardly possible that this tale 
could be true. To illustrate the truth of this, perhaps it may not be out of place 
to relate here an incident, appearing in the traditional portion of Angus MacKay's 
book of piobaireachd. 

Sir Alexander MacDonald of the Isles, being at Dunvegan on a visit to the 
laird of MacLeod, he heard the performance of Patrick Og with great delight ; and 
desirous if possible to have a piper of equal merit, he said to MacCrimmon one day, 
that there was a young man whom he was anxious to place under his tuition, upon 
condition that he should not be allowed to return until such time as he could play 
equal to his master. " When this is the case," said MacDonald, " you will bring 
him home, and I will give you ample satisfaction for your trouble." " Sir Alexander," 
says Patrick, " if you will be pleased to send him to me, I will do all that I am able 

The Teaching and Study of Piobaireachd 29 

to do for him." Charles MacArthur was accordingly sent to Boreraig, where he 
remained for eleven years, when MacCrimmon, considering him as perfect as he 
could be made, proceeded to Mugstad, to deliver his charge to Sir Alexander, who 
was then residing there, and where Eain Dall MacKay, Gairloch's blind piper, 
happened also to be. MacDonald, hearing of their arrival, thought it a good 
opportunity to determine the merit of his own piper by the judgment of the blind 
man, whose knowledge of pipe-music was exceptional. He therefore enjoined Patrick 
Og and MacArthur not to speak a word to betray who they were, and addressing 
MacKay, he told him that he had a young man learning the pipes for some years, 
and was glad he was present to say whether he thought him worth the money which 
his instruction had cost. MacKay said if he heard him play he would give his 
opinion freely ; but requested to be informed previously with whom the piper had 
been studying. Sir Alexander told him that he had been with Patrick Og Mac- 
Crimmon. " Then," exclaimed MacKay, " he could never have found a better 
master." The young man was ordered to play, and when he had finished Sir 
Alexander asked MacKay for his opinion. " I think a great deal of him," replied 
Eain ; " he is a good piper ; he gives the notes correctly, and if he takes care he will 
excel in his profession." Sir Alexander was pleased with so flattering an opinion, 
and observed that he had been at the trouble of sending two persons to the college 
that he might retain the best, so he said that the second one should also play, that 
an opinion of his merit might also be given. MacKay observed that he must be a 
very excellent performer, if he could surpass the first, or even compare with him. 
When Patrick Og, who acted as the second pupil, had finished playing, Sir Alexander 
asked the umpire what he thought of his performance. " Indeed, sir, no one need 
try me in that manner," returned the blind man, " for though I have lost the eyes 
of my human body, I have not lost the eyes of my understanding ; and if all the 
pipers in Scotland were present, I would not find it a difficult task to distinguish 
the last player from them all." " You surprise me, MacKay ; and who is he ? " 
" Who but Patrick Og MacCrimmon ! " promptly rejoined MacKay ; and, turning to 
where Patrick Og was sitting, he observed, " It was quite needless, my good sir, to 
think that you could deceive me in that way, for you could not but know that I should 
have recognised your performance among a thousand." Sir Alexander then asked 
MacKay to play, and afterwards he called for a bottle of whisky, drank to their healths, 
and remarked that he had that night under his roof the three best pipers in Britain. 
From the foregoing narrative it can be clearly seen that the MacCrimmons had 
characteristics even in their performances of piobaireachd peculiarly their own, as 

30 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

well as their method of transmitting their tunes to paper. We are informed that 
one of MacCrimmon's daughters used to steal out with a favourite set of her father's 
pipes in order that she might indulge in a quiet tune. This daughter was also able to 
superintend the instructions of the students in her father's absence. Those facts 
prove that even the fair sex of the olden days had a yearning for this ancient pastime. 

Piobaireachd was never marched to at any time, as pipers do in the case of an 
ordinary March of two or more parts ; nor was it ever intended to be, as can be seen 
on studying its construction. Although the MacCrimmons were not partial to 
Marches, Strathspeys, and Reels, we are not told that upon fitting occasions the 
masters of Boreraig College did not play such tunes themselves. " Ceol Aotrom," 
or the Lighter Music, must have been common in the MacCrimmons' time, otherwise 
they would not have disliked them. The very fact that the March, Strathspey, and 
Reel were forbidden at Boreraig is ample proof that they were composed and played 
in the Highlands of Scotland in the earliest MacCrimmon era. If we believe in our 
ancient Highland traditions, it must be taken as an accepted fact that the common 
two to four-part March was played in the time of war by the old clan pipers, just 
the same as our regimental pipers do at the present day. Piobaireachd is never 
played on the march by the pipers of our Highland regiments. It is only played 
at Mess in the evening. Although all lovers of " Ceol Mor " maintain that 
piobaireachd is the classical music of the Great Highland Bagpipe, yet they have 
no desire to despise " Ceol Aotrom," i.e., the March, Strathspey, and Reel. At the 
same time both species of bagpipe-music must be kept in their proper place, and 
played in the manner and on the occasion for which they were intended. 

The question may now be asked — For what purpose was piobaireachd intended ? 
Or on what occasion or place ought it to be played ? Piobaireachd may be divided 
into various grades signifying the different events that give rise to the Salute, the 
Welcome, the Lament, the Farewell, the Gathering, the March or Challenge, the Battle 
Tune, or the Warning. This is the purpose for which " Ceol Mor " was intended. 
Piobaireachd was performed in the halls of joy ; to gather the clansmen in the time of 
war ; when the fiery cross went round ; as a challenge for the enemy to fight ; in the 
midst of the battle ; and to warn the Chief and his clansmen of the coming foe. These 
were the occasions and places where the classical music of the Great Highland 
Bagpipe was played in the olden days. Although piobaireachd is not played exactly 
on the same occasions at the present day, as it was in the time when the Chief had 
full power over his clan, yet we hear it played in the castle during meal hours, and 
at Highland gatherings to prove the performer's skill in the art. Whatever may 

The Teaching and Study of Piobaireachd 3 1 

be said for the composition of piobaireachd in the olden days, it is true that very 
little credit is due to pipers for their contributions to " Ceol Mor "for the past century 
and a half or more. In several instances, however, it will be noticed that the com- 
position of original piobaireachd has assumed a more energetic aspect, as several good 
piobaireachdan have been composed within recent years. By earnest study and 
renewed efforts we still hope to bring it back to its grand old state of perfection in 
the Highlands of Scotland. This classical music, being of very little importance to 
Scotsmen in general, has been passed over almost unheeded. But to the genuine 
Highlander who loves his native country, its music, its language, its poetry, and its 
history, it means a great deal to be able to rejoice at the resuscitation of an ancient 
and noble art, instead of saying, " Alas ! ancient piobaireachd has passed for ever ! 

When the Highland Chiefs had power over their clans they had their pipers also, 
but after the rising of '45 they lost the power which they exercised before that 
period, and many of them lost or discarded their pipers. The wearing of the Highland 
garb was forbidden, and in many cases a great number of fine clan piobaireachdan 
were mislaid or destroyed. Between the fatal results of '45, and the clergy, bagpipe- 
playing received a severe check in the Highlands for many years. In several 
districts, however, where it was deeply rooted, piping very soon revived again, and 
became more popular than ever. In the good old days when the Chief kept his 
piper, the mystic minstrel held a very dignified position in the retinue of his master. 
It was in those bygone years that piobaireachd flourished. The Highland Chiefs, 
or what are termed nowadays, the landed proprietors in the Highlands of Scotland, 
although not altogether to blame, are still greatly responsible for the decay of the 
composition and practice of piobaireachd. On going back to the traditional history 
of the great MacCrimmons, it can be seen that the Chief maintained his piper and 
sent him to school at Boreraig, or the college of piobaireachd in Skye. There the 
pupil studied from seven to twelve years in the art, under professors or masters of 
this classical music alone. During their long period of tuition pipers had every 
opportunity of understanding the theory and construction of piobaireachd, as well 
as of becoming good players. By this means many pipers became good composers, 
and added to the stock of piobaireachd already on record. Now and in recent years 
the Highland landed proprietcrs have ceased to keep pipers in many instances, 
and the piper has to pay for his own instruction. He usually hurries through this 
much quicker than in the olden times, to save expense. This means that the pupil 
has not acquired the necessary knowledge in the theory of music or the construction 
of piobaireachd to be able to play correctly or compose original pieces. In fact, I 

32 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

have never known of a teacher who gives his pupils instruction in the theory of 
music, or the construction of piobaireachd. This is left to pipers themselves, and 
only those who have a desire to master the art go the length of following it to the 
very root. The date on which her late Majesty Queen Victoria visited the Highlands 
of Scotland (1843) may be taken as the date of the first real traces of the revival 
of the ancient custom of having the piper restored to his former exalted position. 

When Queen Victoria visited Taymouth Castle she admired the performances of 
Breadalbane's piper, and expressed a wish to possess one such as John Ban Mac- 
Kenzie. John Ban was offered the high position of piper to the Queen, but refused, 
saying, " If your lordship is tired of my services, I am willing to go, but I do not wish 
a better master than yourself." John was a piper in the very highest sense of the 
word, for we find that Lord Breadalbane would say : — 

" Carry this fishing basket, John." 

" I cannot, my lord." 

" Will you take the oars for a little ? " 

" I cannot, my lord." 

" How that, John ? " 
I would spoil my fingers for the pipes, my lord." 

" Other pipers play the pipes and work also," remarked his lordship. 

" These men are workmen, my lord, and pipe when they are not working ; 
but I am your lordship's piper." 

Lord Breadalbane, as can be seen, was one of the very few Highland lairds who 
kept a piper. Queen Victoria had several pipers in the royal household, viz. : 
Angus MacKay, William Ross, and William Campbell. This was the means of 
encouraging many noblemen and gentlemen to bring back their pipers. Some time 
elapsed, however, before the bagpipe resumed its normal position in the Highlands. 
The formation of clan societies in our large cities and also throughout the country, 
was the means of reviving many of the customs prevalent in the Highlands in olden 
times. Those customs included bagpipe playing, teaching of the Gaelic language, 
singing Gaelic songs, Highland folk-lore, and violin playing. Bagpipe playing 
seemed to be an outstanding feature by itself, and was greatly encouraged by the 
Highland Society of London, who gave very handsome prizes for the cultivation of 
piobaireachd. About twenty years ago, a greater re-awakening took place in the 
art of piping, and there are now about twenty pipers for every one that was to be 
found before that period. We find good proof of this from the statistics of 
bagpipes made yearly by the leading bagpipe-makers in Scotland. 

The Teaching and Study of Piobaireachd 33 

Bagpipe -making is no longer a forgotten and neglected pastime. It has now 
developed into a great industry. If the production of new sets of bagpipes amount 
to hundreds yearly, it only stands to reason that there must be thousands of pipers 
not only in Scotland, but throughout the known world to-day. Of those thousands 
of performers, few have ambitions to rise above the practice of the common March, 
Strathspey, and Reel. They either do not know or perhaps forget that piobaireachd 
is the essence of bagpipe-music, and no piper is considered a master of the piobmhor 
until he can play and understand " Ceol Mor." Being stirred up by the efforts of 
the Piobaireachd Society, and other means of encouragement, many pipers are 
becoming desirous of being able to play piobaireachd, and understand its con- 
struction. In the olden times, and even within recent years, it was said that teachers 
of bagpipe-music only imparted a portion of their knowledge to their pupils. In my 
time I am pleased to say that I have never met with such men. The time has now 
arrived when there are no secrets in the writing, teaching, or performance of piob- 
aireachd. We live in an age when almost every mystery can be solved, and one thing 
that can be said with safety is, that every passage in piobaireachd, and bagpipe- 
music in general, is in print. Therefore the pupil as well as the teacher have every- 
thing written clearly before them, and both can study alike. By this means many 
of the secrets in writing and performing piobaireachd are revealed with good results — 
thanks to the pioneers of piobaireachd who have come before us, and laboured with 
untiring zeal to pave the way for us their descendants. They have given us " Ceol 
Mor," with its Theme and variations clearly and simply enough to be followed and 
understood by those Highlanders who wish to study it minutely. But still the 
piper who has no knowledge in this ancient art, asks the question — " How can I 
understand the mysteries of the construction or building up of a piobaireachd ? " 
The answer to this question is, that all difficulties, however great, are meant to be 
overcome. Before a man can acquire a perfect knowledge of any difficult subject, 
he must not be daunted with its first appearance. Although it may seem mysterious, 
patience and perseverance will sweep away all obstacles. There are very few things 
in the known world too difficult to be understood by the intelligent, who mean to 
follow a subject to the root at all costs. Therefore a knowledge of the construction 
of piobaireachd can only be acquired by hard work and untiring efforts on the part 
of the student. We have no books, nor ever had any to guide us in this respect. 
For this reason we have to use our own intellect, talent, or ability to fathom the 
form of this ancient art from the tunes which we have had handed down to us from 
the MacCrimmons, MacArthurs, and MacKays. When the compositions of the 

34 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

earlier times are studied it can be seen that the piobaireachdan composed by the 
MacCrimmons are by far the best as regards form and melody. There are no hard 
and fast rules laid down regarding the construction of piobaireachd, so that in the 
case of composing a new tune a great deal is left to the taste and ability of the author 
himself. New productions are the best means of testing the skill and knowledge 
of the master of piobaireachd. Although this classical music is not governed by 
hard and fast rules, nevertheless it must be in proper form, with the variations in 
accordance with the Theme. It is surprising, when we think of it, that piobaireachd 
has been passed over generation after generation unheeded or unchallenged regarding 
its correctness, and that within recent years so much controversy has been carried 
on about it. In the face of it, it cannot be possible that there is anyone living who 
can explain any more than what has been handed down to us by our forefathers 
regarding the construction and performance of piobaireachd. It is perfect in form, 
and has been for hundreds of years. The old tunes will not permit interfering with, 
although some of the variations might be written in better time than we find them 
in the majority of collections. There are some tunes in printed collections with 
variations that do not agree with their Themes, but, on the other hand, there are 
hundreds in perfect form. All that can be said about tunes with variations that do 
not agree with the Urlars is, that the composers had bad taste, or were void of a 
proper knowledge of the construction of piobaireachd. There is still another 
solution of the problem regarding irregular variations, and that is : when a tune 
was taken down from the fingering of some piper who did not know the setting 
properly, he and the collector were to blame, but not the composer. If all pipers 
and collectors in the olden days had been piobaireachd scholars like the MacCrim- 
mons, many errors that now appear in " Ceol Mor " could have been avoided. 

Before going into the construction of the various tunes, it may not be considered 
out of place to give here an explanation of how piobaireachd ought to be performed 
on the part of the piper. If the student of piobaireachd goes under the tuition of a 
good master, he usually gets some instructions in discipline, or how to pose or carry 
himself while playing on the bagpipe. If not, one can see from pipers who have 
received a military training, that they stand perfectly straight. To apply the old 
saying, he stands " as stately as a piper." That is to say, the body must be kept 
straight, head erect, and eyes fixed on some object their own height, neither turning 
the head to the right nor left, no matter who or what is near. A piper who performs 
on the Great Highland Bagpipe, and is adorned by his native garb, must carry himself 
altogether in a " princely " manner, which becomes this trait of Scottish character. 
If the piper does so he is admired by all who see him ; but if otherwise, he takes 

The Teaching and Study of Piobaireachd 35 

away all the charm and appearance that belong to this class of musician. There 
should be no movement of the body above the thighs, and the feet ought to be laid 
down, when marching, just the same, and as gracefully, as if the performer were 
walking. Particular care must be taken to blow perfectly steadily, and use the 
arm gently when pressing the bag, in order to have an equal pressure of wind on the 
reeds to keep the pipes in tune. Some pipers have what is called a " swagger " 
about them when playing. This means that the body is turned into unbecoming 
shapes, and the one foot is often placed in front of the other when marching. In 
some instances, when playing a Strathspey and Reel, the piper swerves and jumps 
up and down like a piece of cork in rough water. There is no need for this extra 
performance. The performer ought to remember that it is the Great Highland 
Bagpipe he is playing, and uphold his dignified position. As an example, if a piper 
were to play a piobaireachd that takes from fifteen to twenty minutes to perform, 
and he were to conduct himself in the manner already described, his pipes would 
never keep in tune. If he were playing in a competition this would disqualify him. 
When the bagpipe is in perfect order and played properly it ought to keep in tune 
for half an hour, or even longer. This gives ample time to play the longest piob- 
aireachd right through without tuning. When playing the Urlar and its Doubling, 
the piper paces the floor or ground in a slow and graceful manner, but not keeping 
time to his music with the feet as in the case of an ordinary March. The same is the 
case with the First Variation, but he stands perfectly still when playing its Doubling. 
He then plays the Taorluath, which usually follows the Doubling of the First Varia- 
tion, and moves off at the same pace, and in the same manner as in the Urlar. This is 
always followed by the Doubling of the Taorluath, at which he stands up and plays 
in the same manner as the Doubling of the First Variation. Finally he comes to the 
Crunluath, and again he moves off as in the Singlings already described. To the 
Doubling of the Crunluath, which finishes the tune, except where a Crunluath-a-mach 
occurs, the piper again stands still. Before he stops it is usual to play a few bars 
of the Theme, pacing off as he did to begin with. In some cases at the end of the 
Taorluath, its Doubling, or any of the previous variations, the sign D.C. Thema is 
observed. D.C. Thema means to repeat the Theme at that point, but as this lengthens 
the tune to a considerable extent and becomes monotonous, it is never carried out 
now. This style of performance of piobaireachd is a symbol of the power that the 
Great Music has on the emotions of the Highland heart. When piobaireachd, or " Ceol 
Mor," is reduced to a level with the common March, Strathspey, and Reel, then it 
would be no longer the classical music which we have the privilege of claiming to 
be peculiar to the genuine Celt alone. 

Chapter III 



PIOBAIREACHD may be classified into eight different forms, or species of 
tunes, viz. : the Salute, the Welcome, the Lament, the Farewell, the Gathering, 
the March or Challenge, the Battle Tune, and the Warning. Having already 
described the manner that piobaireachd ought to be performed, which does not apply 
to any class of tune in particular, but to everyone in the form of piobaireachd, it 
can be seen that the following explanation or definition of " Ceol Mor " bears this out. 
It must be understood to begin with, that piobaireachd is a story, which the piper 
is telling his hearers, through the medium of the Great Highland Bagpipe, in prose, 
not poetry. At the same time piobaireachd must possess time and rhythm just 
the same as any other class of music. 

There is no rule laid down as to what form any of the different species of 
piobaireachd may take, or what notes or grace-notes may be used when composing 
them. The piper may play a Lament, Salute, or Gathering, but if he is not a High- 
lander, or has not studied piobaireachd, he knows no difference between the one 
and the other. On the other hand, the piper may think that some particular Salute 
sounds to him more like a Lament, or that some Lament has more of the nature of a 
Salute. Regarding the tunes which have been handed down to us, we have no say 
in the matter. They must remain in the form that they were composed. Every 
composer or performer of piobaireachd is not of the same temperament. Therefore 
no two composers or performers are alike in this respect, e.g., the piper who com- 
posed " Chisholm's Salute," created in it a melody that gave expression to his joy 
on some particular event, but we have no record of what gave rise to this tune. In 
" Chisholm's Salute " we have what appealed to its composer as a fitting Theme for 
joy, or it might have been appreciation, and there is no doubt that in the composer's 
own heart he rejoiced in its creation. When we turn our attention to this Salute, 
and play it now, we may find some piper who thinks that it is more like a Lament. 
This proves or suggests that the composer of " Chisholm's Salute " and the piper 
who plays it after him, are not of the same temperament. That is to say, the notes or 
melody that touch the heart of one man with joy, might move another to sorrow, 
even to tears. The Salute is generally known by its lively nature, the Lament by its 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 37 

doleful or mournful sound, and the Gathering is recognised by its hurried notes. 
Thus all the various types of tunes are recorded in the " Ceol Mor " of the Celt in 
different melodies or strains according to the temperament of their composers. 

I will now deal with the various forms of piobaireachdan in the same order as I 
have already classified them. 

The occasion which called forth the " Salute " was the birth of an heir to the 
Chief, his succession to the estates, or headship of his tribe or clan, or in some instances 
where we find that the piper wished to pay a compliment to his master for some 
act of kindness. There were various other reasons for the Salute being composed 
in olden times, but these are several of the chief instances, and I will confine my 
attention to the minute description of piobaireachdan composed to commemorate 
such events. It is an unwritten law, and strictly in accordance with the ancient 
custom peculiar to the Celtic people of the stern and wild regions of Caledonia, that 
no Chief or individual would have more than one Salute dedicated to him, e.g., if a 
Salute were composed on the birth of a Chief, his coming of age, or his marriage, the 
same Chief never had another Salute dedicated to him at any time. One of the 
main reasons for this was to save confusion. We have " King James VI. 's Salute," 
for instance. If it had been composed on his birth, and another Salute composed 
on his marriage, or any other important stage of his life, there would have been 
two Salutes to King James VI. The one would have had to be distinguished from 
the other such as " King James VI. 's Birthday Salute " and " King James VI. 's 
Marriage Salute," which tends to lessen the value or greatness of this type of music, 
and the creators of piobaireachd must have been aware of that fact. Hence we 
find only once within the compass of " Ceol Mor " a tune entitled " King James VI. 's 
Salute," which sounds much stronger and more effective than if there had been two 
piobaireachdan of the same name. 

" Failte Mhic Ghille Chaluim Rathasaidh," 
" Macleod of Raasay's Salute " 

is the first piobaireachd about to be defined, and it will be found in Angus MacKay's 
" Collection of Ancient Piobaireachd," page 9. It was composed by the family piper 
on the birth of James MacLeod of Raasay. Six daughters having come before him, 
there was good reason for rejoicings of more than the usual nature. The most 
important part of a piobaireachd is the Urlar, which means the floor, or Theme. 
Perhaps a more accurate meaning would be the foundation. In fact, it is the 
root of the whole tune. As the tree has a root, a trunk, and branches, the 

38 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

same may be said of a piobaireachd. It has its Urlar, the root ; its First Variation, 
its trunk or body ; and its Taorluath and Crunluath, its branches. Here we 
have this beautiful Theme as it was given us by its author many years ago. 
It shows how peculiarly firm and clear was his grasp of the structural form of 
this special type of piobaireachd. It is a delightful melody, and an indication 
of the Salute can be found here by all on account of the construction of the Urlar. 
The composer begins on the lower notes of the chanter, and rises to the high hand, 
which is a sign of joy on his part. The whole tune from beginning to end is in 
perfect form, and each variation can be traced from the Urlar with one exception. 
The Urlar consists of sixteen bars, in three strains or parts of six, six, and four bars, 
and written in common time. Tradition says that there should be no break in the 
Urlar of any piobaireachd, and that the first double bar line should appear at the 
end of the Theme. It is said that the MacCrimmons marked off the Urlars and 
variations at certain places, to make a break in the length of the piece for the con- 
venience of their pupils. By doing so the pupil had only six bars to remember at a 
time, and then committed the rest of the Urlar or variation to memory by degrees. 
Whether or not there is any truth in this, it can be seen that piobaireachd is unlike 
any other class of music. In the Urlar and variations of every tune there is a com- 
plete close at certain points. Here the strains terminate as indicated by the two 
sloped lines, or double bar lines at the end of the sixth, twelfth, and sixteenth bars. 
The irregular length of the strains, and the change that takes place in the structure 
of the variations, go a long way to prove that piobaireachd is not poetry, but 
prose set to music. As I hear this beautiful Theme, in imagination, I can see the 
composer's stately form pacing the grounds of the Seat of the Chief, and hear him 
telling his story through the medium of the Great Highland Bagpipe. His heart is 
so touched with joy that he plays his new tune for the first time, a few days after 
the birth. The Chief himself hears the strange melody, and at once recognizes it 
as that of rejoicing, not having heard the piper play it on any previous occasion. 
The piper moves to and fro, or perhaps round the castle, overcome with joy of a 
two-fold nature : because of the birth of an heir to his master, and the successful 
creation of his tune. In this way he tells the clansmen in the neighbourhood what 
has happened, and they gather round the festive board of their Chief to congratulate 
him upon this happy occasion. The melody has a peculiar strain or mingling of 
emotion. It seems as if it tells of the anxiety of the Chief, whose yearning desire 
for an heir to his estates had been fulfilled. That this little stranger who had 
appeared was to be his father's pride, and the joy of his mother's heart. The Thumb 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 39 

Variation is also written in common time, and the only variance from the Urlar is 
in the third and fifth bars of the first part, the first and fifth of the second part, and 
the first, third, and fourth of the last part, where high A takes the place of the F. 
In this variation the piper repeats his Theme, or story, with still greater joy as he 
reaches at intervals the very highest notes of the chanter. The First Variation in 
this Salute is the Taorluath. The word Taorluath has no English equivalent. It is 
entirely a word applied to a variation in piobaireachd. In order to put the Taorluath 
Variation into vocal musical form, or chant it over, each movement must have three 
syllables. We find this can be played on every note of the chanter. That is to say 
it can be played off the low G and every other note right up to high A. From low 
A to high A all the movements come from the initial note on which they are per- 
formed, down to low G, closing the chanter, opening it with a D grace-note on the first 
A, and putting in an E grace-note on the last A. The movement on the low G is 
slightly different, being G A A with a single D grace-note on the first A, and an E 
grace-note on the last A, but all movements in the different variations will be more 
fully described at a later stage. Taor does not mean two, as tri means three. Luath 
means fast, quick, or speedy. Therefore, to a certain extent, the word Taorluath 
derives its name from the quick or speedy nature of that movement in piobaireachd, 
just the same as the water in its natural course makes a sound which suggests the 
word trickling. The Taorluath here is written in twelve-eight time, with four groups 
of notes or movements to the bar, whereas it should be written in common time the 
same as the Urlar. Twelve-eight time has a dotted quaver, a semi-quaver, and a 
quaver to the movement, or group of notes. To write this variation as near as is 
possible to the manner in which it is actually performed, there should be a dotted 
quaver and two demi-semi-quavers to the movement, making the variation work 
out in perfect keeping with the Urlar. The part " luath " of the word Taorluath — 
meaning fast or speedy — indicates that this is a quicker and more lively movement 
than the Urlar. The Taorluath is composed of the notes of most value in the Urlar. 
The first note in the group always varies, and gets most time. The remaining 
portion of the movement is played as quick as it is possible for the performer to 
bring out the notes clearly and distinctly. If this variation were written as will be 
found in the second edition of " The Royal Collection of Piobaireachd," the whole 
tune could be written in common time from beginning to end, and each movement 
would stand on itself as being of the value of one crotchet. Although there is no 
rule, one can see that the Urlar and the time in which it is written have a regulating 
power or effect upon the whole tune. Therefore, where it is possible, and a tune 

40 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

is found written in the same time from beginning to end, then it is a perfect piobair- 
eachd. This fact has apparently escaped the attention of students of " Ceol Mor," 
but nevertheless it is correct. By adhering to such a rule piobaireachd would be 
made clear and simple, the same melodic accent and rhythm would be carried right 
through the tune, and the variations would be more attractive and less monotonous 
than they usually are. The Taorluath as given here is note for note in keeping with 
the Urlar, except in the fourth bar of the second part, where the composer gives 
A C E C instead of A E C C as is in the Ground. This departure from the Urlar is for 
variety, and in most cases for better melody, which is allowed in piobaireachd, accord- 
ing to the taste and discretion of the composer. It is quite wrong to put notes in 
the variations that do not appear in the Ground. From the lively performance of 
this variation it seems as if the composer were inspired with fresh enthusiasm as he 
paces to and fro gracefully, continuing his story and telling his hearers of the great 
future that lies before the young Chief. Then comes the Doubling of Taorluath. 
Because the word Doubling is used it does not mean to play this variation twice as 
fast as the Taorluath, or what is usually known as the Singling of Taorluath. The 
Doubling must be played at the same rate of speed as the Singling. The word 
Doubling means that the Taorluath is played over again, all in the same movement. 
The long or Themal notes, such as C A and B A, take the Taorluath form in the 
Doubling. It is written in twelve-eight time as in the Singling, but should be written 
in common time. The piper stands perfectly still when playing this variation, as 
if he were quite unconscious of his surroundings, or of those who were listening to him. 
It seems as if he had excluded all other throughts from his mind, so that he might 
put full life and vigour into his imaginative story of the young Chief's future life. 

We come now to the Crunluath, which is entirely a piobaireachd expression. 
It may be said to have derived its name partly from the sound of the movement, 
as the crooning of a dove, and partly from its warbling nature. The Crunluath is 
written in twelve-eight time, but should be written in common time. This variation 
is quicker and more lively than the Taorluath, and one can imagine seeing the piper 
pacing off again slowly as he plays, enraptured with his final outburst of joy, to which 
he gives vent in this the finest of all movements in piobaireachd. The Crunluath 
always begins with the same starting notes as the Taorluath, and the first half of the 
movement is also the same as the Taorluath. The last part of the movement is per- 
formed by coming up to E, putting in the A FA grace-note passage, and finishing again 
on the E. 

Finally, we come to the Doubling of Crunluath, which is also written in twelve- 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 41 

eight time, but should be common time. In this variation as in the Taorluath the 
rate of speed is the same in the Doubling as in the Singling. If the Doubling of the 
Crunluath were played twice as fast as the Singling, no man's fingers could ever bring 
out the notes clearly and distinctly. In the Doubling of the Crunluath the piper's joy 
and his tune are both complete, as he stands still, performing the last strains of his 
inspiring melody. Before he lays his instrument aside he returns to his Urlar and 
plays it over again in order that he may assure his hearers as well as himself that his 
tune is real. It was not merely a passing fancy, or a Theme that varied every time 
he played it, but a tune that has developed into perfect form, and is rooted in 
his mind never to be forgotten. 

The next tune which I will describe in this class is 

" Failte Fir Bhaosdail," 
" Boisdale's Salute," 
which will be found in " Ceol Mor," page 25. The author of this piobaireachd is 
unknown. It was composed on the occasion of Alasdair Mor MacDonald, First of 
Boisdale, taking possession of the estates. In the Theme of this fine piobaireachd 
we have an entirely different melody. Again it can be seen as an indication of the 
Salute, that the Urlar begins on the low hand and rises to the higher notes of the 
chanter, which produces a very effective melody. The composer had good material 
to work upon in the creation of his new Theme, and being inspired with the exalted 
position which Boisdale attained, he made the best of it. The Urlar is written in 
three-four time, and consists of three sections, and in all sixteen bars of four bars, 
two of which are bissed, making six, six, and four bars. Here we find a strange 
mingling of joy and sorrow. The first note of most value being A and rising to D, 
with a throw or grace-note group GDC which denotes sorrow, then the E takes 
away the sympathetic touch, joy, because the composer along with his fellow- 
clansmen rejoice on the occasion of their new Chief taking possession of the estates. 
The notes in the Urlar which suggest sorrow are because of the loss of their beloved 
Chieftain who has left them for ever. Through the ear of imagination I can hear the 
composer play his new Theme for the first time, and in reality when I play it I can 
follow the story told by the Highland minstrel through his great warpipe. He 
heralds the ascent of his new Chief to his dignified position, and in the pleasing 
sound of his notes of salutation he assures his new master, as he might have been, 
that his clansmen will ever be true to his standard in war or peace. At the same 
time, the notes of sorrow occurring at intervals in his newly-created tune indicate 
the great loss which they have sustained through the departure of their late Chief 

42 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

to " the Land o' the Leal." The Urlar is followed by its Doubling, or Thumb Variation. 
The E movement is deleted and is replaced by high A, with a high A grace-note. 
The high A in the Doubling creates a greater expression of joy as the performer 
repeats his Theme. It must not be imagined that the Thumb Variation with its high 
A occurs in a Salute alone. Any piobaireachd may have a Thumb Variation, though 
it is rarely, if ever, found in the Gathering. While the high A in the Thumb Variation 
of a Salute indicates greater joy, in the Lament it is an expression of deeper sorrow. 
It all depends upon the note or melody that precedes and follows the high A, and 
also the temperament of the composer and performer. This Salute differs from 
" MacLeod of Raasay's Salute," which has just been described, because it has a 
variation and its Doubling before the Taorluath, known as the First Variation. It 
has no particular name in Gaelic, although sometimes known as the Siubhal. The 
First Variation is written in six-eight time, and carries with it the same melody as the 
Theme, but in an entirely different form. It is in perfect keeping with the Urlar. 
The first half of each bar is of the Taorluath movement, and the second half is of a 
wavering movement, rising and falling as it goes on. Beginning on D, falling to 
the low A, and rising again to E, which might be described as a semi-circle, or round 
movement. The Singling follows the Ground in the second half of the second, fourth, 
and sixth bars of the first strain ; the second half of the second and sixth bars of the 
second strain ; and the second half of the second and fourth bars of the last strain, 
in a sloping movement, beginning on D, falling to low G, and F D falling to B alter- 
nately. In this variation it seems as if the author were telling of how changes took 
place as years rolled on. As his notes rise and fall it seems as real as life. The 
coming and going of Chief after Chief, generation after generation, the one following 
in the other's footsteps. In the Doubling the movement is carried out systematically 
right through from beginning to end, and also written in six-eight time. The move- 
ment which follows the Ground is replaced by the same movement as the rest of 
the variation. This signifies the desire of the composer, as he stands motionless, to 
express with more vigour and earnestness the part of the story which he has just 
related to his hearers. Then we come to the Taorluath, the meaning of which has 
already been given. It is written in six-eight time, but would be nearer to the 
manner in which it is actually played if written in two-four time. The alteration in 
the time-signature cannot be avoided in certain cases. This is an instance, and the 
Themal melody is still preserved. The Taorluath is different from that of " MacLeod 
of Raasay's Salute," which has four movements in each bar, because the Urlar is 
written in common time. Here we have only two movements in each bar, although, 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 43 

according to the Urlar, which is written in three-four time, there might have been 
three movements in each bar if the composer had wished. The reason for this may 
be explained that sometimes to prevent the tune from being too long and wearisome, 
one of the notes which forms the movement is left out. In other instances one move- 
ment is omitted for better melody, according to the taste and discretion of the 
composer. It does not follow that because there are only two movements or groups 
of notes to the bar in the First Variation and its Doubling that there should only be 
two movements to the bar in the Taorluath. The Taorluath here could easily have 
been written with three movements in each bar. If the composer had desired, he 
could have given A D E, A D D bissed, B D E, and B F D, and still be in perfect form 
and good melody, as can be seen on consulting the Ground. This is an example of how 
composers' and performers' tastes differ. We must be content, however, to abide by 
the tune as the composer wrote it. The Taorluath here is of a lively nature as described 
in the tune already dealt with. The first note of each movement always varies 
and comes down to low G, and finally finishes on the low A, except where the variation 
follows the Theme, and as in the Singling of the First Variation. At this point it seems 
as if the composer were going deeper into his discourse of how the clansmen had 
fought in the past and how many victories they had won, also that they were pre- 
pared to uphold their honour and traditions in the future as they had done in the 
past. Now we come to the Doubling of Taorluath, also written in six-eight time, 
but according to the way that it is played it should be written in two-four time. 
This is a repetition of the Taorluath, only that there is no movement resembling 
the Ground. The Doubling is performed in the Taorluath movement throughout. 
One can imagine seeing the performer come to a dead halt and repeating his tale 
in the hope that his notes might be carried away in the western breeze and heard 
by the clansmen in the far distance. The next variation is the Crunluath, still written 
in six-eight time, but performed in two-four time. The movement is the same as 
that already described in " MacLeod of Raasay's Salute." The first note in each 
movement always varies, coming down to the low G and finally finishing on the 
E, except where the variation follows the Urlar in the long Themal notes. We have 
now followed the author's story to its closing stage, in which it would seem as if he 
were conscious of his performance coming to an end. He expresses a desire on his 
own part and that of his fellow-clansmen that their new Chief might see many long 
and prosperous years. Finally we come to the Doubling of Crunluath, which should 
be written in two-four time. It is entirely of the Crunluath movement throughout. 
The long Themal notes in the Singling are converted into the Crunluath movement. 

44 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

Here the piper is performing his last notes in a standing position, clear and distinct. 
Before he lays his instrument aside in silence, he moves off in stately form with firm 
step, returning to his Theme. He repeats it as a double vowof fidelityto his new master, 
and it dies away in the silence of the cool evening atmosphere that surrounds him. The 
neighbouring hills echo a joyful response to the shrill cry of the great instrument. 
The last tune in this series for description is 

" Failte Uilleam Dhuibh Mhic Coinnich," 
"The Earl of Seaforth's Salute." 

It will be found in Angus MacKay's " Collection of Piobaireachd," page 116. This 
piobaireachd was composed by Finlay Dubh MacRae, Seaforth's piper, when his 
master was in exile in the year 1715. It expressed a wish that Seaforth might 
return to his Highland home safe and sound. 

The Earl of Seaforth fled to France after the Battle of Sheriffmuir. On this 
fatal field the MacKenzies and MacRaes both distinguished themselves. The 
MacKenzies were the first clan called upon by General Wade to deliver up their 
arms, which they did at Brachan Castle in the year 1725. Although the clan had 
lost their Chief, they were still loyal to him while he was in exile. His estates were 
forfeited, but the rents were collected regularly and remitted to France. Eight 
hundred men escorted the money as far as Edinburgh. One would have thought 
that there was more need to compose a Lament than a Salute under such circum- 
stances. Such, at all events, was not the case, for we find Findlay Dubh MacRae 
composing this beautiful and inspiring piobaireachd as a compliment to his master in 
order that he might fill his heart with fresh courage when far from his native home. 
I have chosen this tune for two reasons, viz. : Because it is entirely different in 
construction from the two already dealt with, and it expresses a wish on the part 
of the composer, or, as I have already illustrated, it tells us a story. Here we have 
proof that it is not entirely imagination to say that piobaireachd is the medium through 
which the Highlander relates his tale. The Ground of the Earl of Seaforth's Salute 
is written in common time, and has sixteen bars in three strains of six, six, and four 
bars. It is from beginning to end a series of runs, commencing on the low G, rising 
to the high G, and so on. There are two sets of runs in each bar, except the second 
half of the fourth and sixth bars of the first part, the second and sixth bars of the 
second part, and the second and fourth bars of the third part, where they all descend. 
This piobaireachd may be described as being peculiarly grand, and a Theme with 
its variations which are always pleasing to the ear no matter how often one hears it. 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 45 

In those pleasing notes of salutation, the piper cheers and encourages his master, 
who had fled from his clan and country. He assures him that although he is in exile 
his clansmen are still loyal to him. They collect his rents and send them to him at 
the risk of their lives, ungrudgingly, and hope that soon he will return to them 
again in safety. The First Variation, which may be termed the Doubling of the Ground, 
is also written in common time. It is in perfect keeping with the Ground, and so are 
all the following variations. The First Variation differs from the Ground in that the 
second half of the bars already mentioned rise instead of descending, with the result 
that a very pleasing melody is produced. In this variation it seems as if the piper 
were endeavouring to brighten his master's hopes of being able to return to them 
when the awful conflict of Sheriffmuir was forgotten. The Doubling of Variation 
First is still written in common time, and is even of a more pleasing melody than the 
Singling. It rises and falls alternately twice in each bar right through the variation, 
and is of a soothing or quietening nature. It seems as if the minstrel meant to lull 
the Chieftain in his distress, and bid him cast aside all fear and anxiety, because all 
is well with his clansmen and his estates at home. 

Now we come to the Taorluath Breabach. The word Taorluath has already been 
described, and Breabach means leaping. Thus, after the Taorluath movement is 
performed, the fingers, or movement, always rise from the low A to a higher note, 
which is in accordance with the interpretation of the word Breabach. The Taorluath 
Breabach is entirely different from any variation already described. It has four 
notes to each movement, and four syllables to each group of notes. It might have 
been derived from some natural sounds, or the quadrupling of a sound by echoes. 
This variation is written in common time, and the accent is on the first and third 
notes of each group. That is to say, the first note of the movement is a dotted 
quaver, the second a semi-quaver, the third a dotted quaver, and the last a semi- 
quaver. This is carried right through the variation. The first note in each move- 
ment always varies, and the middle portion is the usual Taorluath movement, except 
where D B B and DBA notes occur. The movement preceding the notes referred 
to is slightly different from the others. The first note is a dotted quaver, the second 
and third are semi-quavers, and the last a dotted quaver. In this instance the 
first and last note in the group have the strongest accent, because they are followed 
by a different movement, and so timed as to produce a better melody. We find 
this variation timed the same in " The Lament for the Harp Tree," " The Marquis 
of Argyll's Salute," and " The MacRae's March." In " The Red Hand in the 
MacDonald's Arms," the accent is on the first and last note in the movement right 

46 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

through the variation. In " Struan Robertson's Salute " it is still different. The 
accent is on the first note only, being a dotted quaver, the second a semi-quaver, 
and the third and fourth quavers right through the variation. In " Isabel MacKay " 
this variation does not agree with any of them. The fourth note is detached from 
the group, which still gives common time. The Taorluath movement and the 
additional notes which complete the Taorluath Breabach group are given separately. 
The first three only are joined together, being a quaver and two semi-quavers, and 
the fourth note standing by itself is a crotchet. It is very difficult to lay down the 
law in this species of variation, as the different styles quoted all sound very well, 
even when performed as timed. The plain Taorluath has a fixed system of accent, 
but the Taorluath Breabach could perhaps hardly be tied down to a fixed mode of 
accent. Still, opinions differ very widely: "many men, many minds." A great 
deal would depend upon the accent in the Urlar, which always regulates the apportion- 
ment of the time in all variations, no matter what form they take, but much more 
in variations that have got no fixed form. Returning to the variation which I have 
first described, it has beauty and pathos. The minstrel gives expression to his own 
and his fellow-clansmen's love and loyal devotion to their Chief, whom they have 
not forgotten or forsaken during his period of exile. The Doubling of Taorluath 
Breabach is also written in common time, and the accent is on the first and third note 
of the group in every case. The performer stands motionless as he repeats his 
wireless message to his Chief. All his energies are put into the music that he is 
pouring forth, as he turns his ear slightly to the wind in the hope of catching an 
answer to his pealing notes. 

Now we come to the Crunluath Breabach, a movement similar to that of the 
Crunluath, with two additional notes in the group. There are seven syllables in each 
movement, and this is the longest of all movements in piobaireachd. It has a 
resemblance to thunder in the distance. When thunderstorms occur in the High- 
lands they are sometimes so severe that they shake the very foundations of the 
houses, and the peals roar along the glens with terrific magnitude, dying away 
among the mountain solitudes in a low rumbling noise. As the thunder has a very 
powerful effect on the mind of the Highlander, so has the Crunluath Breabach move- 
ment in piobaireachd. It shakes the air around the Celtic minstrel, and rolls down 
the glen, dying away like the mighty thunder over the distant hilltops. There are 
six notes in each movement, as for instance, E, A E E A, E, with two groups to the 
bar of common time. The accent is on the first and last note of each group, except 
where the long or Themal notes appear as in the Ground. One can follow the 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 47 

emotions of the piper as he moves away slowly from the Doubling of Taorluath 
Breabach. Having received no reply from his master in answer to his notes of 
cheer, he strikes into the variation already described, in the hope that the gladdening 
notes may be carried away by the mountain breezes to his master's ear. 

Finally we come to the Doubling of Crunluath Breabach, also written in common 
time. It is all in the Crunluath Breabach movement throughout, with the accent on 
the first and last notes in the group. Again the piper stands still, aroused to the 
very highest pitch of enthusiasm. In his last efforts he attempts to convey to his 
master this sympathetic story in a powerful blast of hurried notes. He repeats the 
same message, and listens for an answer, but in vain. Before the performer ceases 
playing he finds himself enveloped in a glorious Theme. It fills his soul with hope, 
and touches his heart with the joy that lies before him and his fellow-clansmen, 
when they hope to meet their beloved Chieftain, never to part till death shall sever 

The next species of piobaireachd in rotation for definition is the Welcome. It 
is really a special form of a Salute. When one Highland Chieftain paid a visit to 
another in the olden days it was the custom to compose a piobaireachd known as a 
" Welcome." It might have been on an occasion when one Chief met another for 
the first time, or that they had not met each other for a long period, and during 
that time had been frequently at war with one another. The Welcome was composed 
and played by the host's piper, to assure the guest that he was to receive a real 
welcome, and that the sword was hung up in the hall for ever, terminating all their 
previous feuds. In other instances it might have been an assurance that the visiting 
Chief was always made welcome, or that he had been absent for a long time, and the 
family piper at the castle where the visitor was staying struck up his newly-composed 
tune to express his joy at seeing him once more. Many piobaireachdan in the form 
of a " Welcome " must be hidden under the title of the " Salute," but the one defined 
here will be found in " Ceol Mor," page 290. 

" Isi do bheatha Eoghain," 
" You're welcome, Ewin Lochiel." 

This was Cameron of Lochiel, and probably Evan, or Ewin Dhu, a great warrior, 
who flourished about the year 1652. Sir Walter Scott says — " He came to court in 
the reign of James II. to obtain pardon for one of his clan, who, being in command 
of a party of Camerons, had fired by mistake on a body of Atholl men, and killed 
several. He was received with the most honourable distinction, and his request 

48 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

granted. The king, desiring to make him a knight, asked the Chieftain for his own 
sword in order to render the ceremony still more peculiar. Lochiel had ridden up 
from Scotland, being then the only mode of travelling, and a constant rain had so 
rusted his trusty broadsword, that at the moment no man could have unsheathed 
it. Lochiel, affronted at the idea which the courtiers might have conceived, from 
his not being able to draw his own sword, burst into tears. ' Do not regard it, my 
faithful friend,' said King James, with ready courtesy ; ' your sword would have left 
the scabbard of itself had the royal cause required it.' With that the king bestowed 
the intended honour with his own sword, which he presented to the new knight as 
soon as the ceremony was performed." 

At one time in the 17th century, it is said that Sir Ewin Cameron of Lochiel and 
the Earl of Atholl were at enmity with each other over certain grazing rights. 
Atholl and Lochiel met at a certain place to settle the dispute, and they each had 
about sixty followers concealed close by. Atholl and Lochiel met alone first, but 
neither of them seemed to yield, when the Earl of Atholl gave the signal, and his 
men appeared. " Who are they ? " demanded Lochiel. " These," replied Atholl, 
" are a few of my hoggs come across the hills to grow fat upon their own proper 
grazings." Lochiel immediately gave the signal and his men appeared on the scene. 
" Who are they ? " demanded Atholl. " These," replied Lochiel, " are a few Lochaber 
hounds eager to taste the flesh of your Atholl hoggs." Lochiel having the most men, 
Atholl gave in to save a bloody conflict, and this gave rise to the Cameron's war-cry, 
" Ye children of the hounds, come hither and get flesh." " You're welcome, Ewin 
Lochiel," might have been composed by Atholl's piper when first they met in friendly 
terms, as the origin and history of this tune have suffered and been lost through 
neglect, like many others. The Urlar is written in two-four time, with eight, and 
eight bars, and an additional bar at the end for a second time. That is to say, when 
repeating the second part the little finger movement, or E A A A, is changed into 
E E E, and E A A A for a finishing bar. We are entering here upon fresh ground 
altogether. The notes when reproduced on the chanter actually speak to the performer 
and his audience. Beginning on B, then D, B to low G for the first bar, B D and again 
B D for the second bar, when put into syllables are, " You're-wel-come-Ewin-Loch-iel- 
Loch-iel," and so on. One can follow the composer's story from the title of this tune 
itself. The music speaks to us. What can be grander than this ? The piper 
of the Chief whom Lochiel is visiting is addressing his master's guest through his 
great warpipe. He is extending to Lochiel a real Highland welcome. In the Theme 
there is an expression of joy and assurance of friendship in the meeting, whatever 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 49 

may have occurred previous to this between the two Chiefs. In fact, this is a Warning 
as well as a Welcome. If some friendly piper had warned MacDonald of Glencoe of 
his great danger the night before the massacre, such a cruel deed would not lie red 
in the pages of our Scottish history to-day. Many a Chief supped, and drank wine 
with another, and yet neither of them was free from danger. In this instance it may 
be said that the piper is friendly in his manner, and thoughtful in his attitude to his 
master's guest. He is warning Lochiel that he is welcome, and free from danger 
whatever his thoughts may be. 

We come now to the First or Fosgailte Variation, not yet described. Fosgailte 
means open. An open variation always begins on the low A, low G, and sometimes 
on B, and rising to all the higher notes on the chanter according to the construction 
of the tune in which they occur. The melody which this style of variation produces 
is rather impressive. It is written in two-four time, the same as the Urlar, with the 
same number of bars, only that it has three extra bars in the second part for a second 
time. This is rather a peculiarly constructed variation. All the notes contained 
in it are to be found in the Ground, although not in the same order. A properly 
constructed piobaireachd should have variations with the notes in the same order 
as the Urlar, or as far as possible. A little variety is quite allowable, but this 
variation is particularly different in order, although it produces a pleasing melody 
all the same. There are no Doublings to any of the variations in this tune as given 
in " Ceol Mor," or in the MS. setting which I possess, although there could quite 
easily be. One can follow the author's story, and hear the piper as he tells his 
hearers that the days of conflict and enmity are past, the sword is in its scabbard, 
and the targe is hung on the wall. The Highland minstrel is bidding farewell to the 
past and stimulating a happy feeling between two clans whose Chieftains have met 
in one accord. Then comes the Taorluath Fosgailte, which means an open Taorluath 
movement, and one not previously described. It is of the same form as the previous 
variation, only that the accentuated notes are preceded by three low A's or G's 
as the case may be. Sometimes by three B's, but rarely three C's, except in the 
Taorluath-a-mach, when the movement has three C's only, with appropriate grace- 
notes, and no higher or lower notes succeed them in the mach movement. This 
variation has exactly the same number of bars as the one before it, and is written 
exactly as it is played, in two-four time. That is to say, giving G G G D, and 
G G G B, two movements to the bar. The first three notes are semi-quavers played 
in the time of two, and the last note in the group a quaver. As the performer doubles 
his notes in this variation, he attracts the special attention of Lochiel in a more 

50 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

fascinating manner. He tells him of joys to come, as, for instance, when two great 
houses are joined together in the bonds of love. 

Finally we come to the last variation, the Crtinluath Fosgailte, or open Crunluath 
movement. It is in exact keeping with the Taorluath Fosgailte, and written in six- 
eight time. If this variation were written in two-four time, as it is played, we would 
have in Lochiel's Welcome a perfect piobaireachd. Should it have been, as already 
suggested, that love has taken the place of war, is it not like the lamb lying down 
to sleep in the lion's bosom ? In the last notes of his tune the piper foresees great 
revelations, and pours them forth in soothing form, which ring in the visitor's ears 
never to be forgotten. As he returns once more to play his Theme whence came 
all his tale of love and war, it dies away in grandeur that can only be found in this, 
the greatest of all music, so dear to the Highland heart. 

The next species of piobaireachd is the Lament, giving vent to sorrow on the 
death of the Chief, the loss of relatives near and dear to the composer, and the cruel 
calamity which has befallen the clan. As in the Salute, there is only one Lament 
composed to perpetuate the memory of one Chieftain, or individual, according to 
the ancient custom. Two Laments should not exist for one person. 

" Cum ha Mhic an Toisich," 
" Mackintosh's Lament." 

A most pathetic and touching melody, which will be found in Angus MacKay's 
" Collection of Ancient Piobaireachd," page 162, is worthy of definition. There are 
several versions of the history of this tune, and it is very difficult to select the most 
likely one. I am of opinion that the historic note by Angus MacKay is more to be 
relied upon than any of those given by various writers. The Chief whose memory 
is perpetuated by this Lament was Lachlan Mackintosh of Dunnachton, a man of 
great possessions. He was noted for his extraordinary wit and judgment, and 
curbed with great strictness the lawless and turbulent disposition of his clan. By 
this means he raised up a great many enemies, and James Malcomeson, a near 
kinsman of the Chief, at the head of a restless party, was encouraged by them, and 
the hope of being ruler of the clan, to murder the good Mackintosh. This Lament 
was said to be composed on the sad event by the Chief's piper about the year 1526. 
There are two other versions of the history of the tune. First — It is said to have been 
composed by the famous family bard, Maclntyre, on the death of William, who was 
murdered by the Countess of Huntly in 1550. Second — A superstitious idea existed 
amongst the clansmen that the Mackintosh of that time would not die a natural 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 51 

death, and the story goes that he had a beautiful black steed, with a glossy skin 
that shone like the raven's wing, and whose mane and tail waved free as the wind 
itself. The Chief was supposed to have ridden this horse on the day of his marriage, 
and the animal became so restive that his rider lost control of his temper, drew his 
pistol, and shot his favourite dead. Another horse was procured, and the company 
proceeded to church. After the ceremony was over the party returned the way they 
had come. The bride and her maids on white ponies, went on in front, followed by 
the Chief, whose horse shied at the dead body of the fine black steed, which lay by 
the roadside, and the Mackintosh was thrown to the ground and killed on the spot. 
Until informed, the Mackintosh's wife was quite unconscious that she was a bride, 
a wife, and a widow on the same day. The verses of this Lament were supposed to 
be composed by the Chief's widow, and chanted at the funeral by the broken-hearted 
Chieftainess, who marked time by tapping on the coffin lid with her fingers on the 
way to the churchyard. It may be quite possible that the bard Maclntyre and the 
widowed Chieftainess both composed lamentations in poetic form on such an event, 
but neither of them composed this piobaireachd. It was composed by a piper, and 
has nothing whatever to do with poetry. We have no record of any bard ever being 
capable of composing a piobaireachd, except John Dall MacKay, and although 
the great MacCrimmon's daughter could play the piob mhor, even she never 
composed a piobaireachd. Therefore, the Mackintosh's widow did not compose 
this tune, nor the bard Maclntyre either. The Urlar of Mackintosh's Lament is 
written in common time, with thirty-six bars in all, in four strains of eight, 
ten, eight and ten bars. Mackintosh's Lament is the only piobaireachd within 
the realms of " Ceol Mor " so constructed. It appears that the Urlar terminates at 
the end of the eighteenth bar, being eight and ten bars, and the following 
eight and ten bars constitute a Thumb Variation, or Doubling of Ground. 
The second eight and ten bars are a repetition of the first two strains, with a 
high A in place of the fourth F in the nineteenth and twenty-seventh bars. 
The melody of the Theme has a very solemn and touching effect on the minds of 
the pipers who play it, and also on those who listen to its plaintive notes. 

The composer of this Lament has paid a last tribute to the memory of his gallant 
Chief. He has told us through his national instrument of the loss which the right- 
thinking members of the clan have sustained by the death of their ruler, who lived 
a straightforward and upright life. The First Variation is written in two-four time 
and is in perfect keeping with the Ground, of eight, ten, eight, and ten bars, and the 
high A is carried right through this and all the following variations. Variation 

52 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

First is also known as the Siubhal, or a two-syllabled variation. The Doubling of 
Variation First is identically the same as the Singling regarding time and number of 
bars. The couplet movement is to be found on every note of the chanter, according 
to the Urlar, and comes down to the low A, but never to low G. When the initial 
note of the movement is low G it rises to low A. This is also a two-syllabled variation, 
or the original sound with an echo. Care should be taken to observe when writing 
and performing the Siubhal that on coming from the high A to low A, no grace- 
note should be written, and certainly cannot be played. That in the Singling of the 
Siubhal, movements on D, C, B, and low A to low A have all got high G and E grace- 
notes on each movement consecutively, and not high G grace-notes on each of the 
following notes D A, C A, B A, and A A. In the Doubling of Siubhal special care 
should also be taken to see that when writing or playing high A, if it should occur, 
no grace-notes appear on double high A's, or the next succeeding note ; that a 
high A grace-note is written and played on both high G's and the first note of the 
following movement, unless it is a high A ; that double E's have got a high G 
grace-note on the first E, and an F grace-note on the second E ; and that double 
D's, C's, B's, and low A's have each got a high G and E grace-note on every move- 
ment, or couplet ; not all high G grace-notes on each note. When two notes of the 
same pitch follow each other they are divided or separated by means of a grace-note, 
but this is not the case where two high A's occur in the Siubhal. The A's are divided 
by means of the pressure of the arm on the bag. In the case of two E's in the 
Siubhal, my proof for maintaining that the first E in the movement has a G grace- 
note and the second E has an F, is that it produces a far better and more telling 
effect. This was the way in which John Ban MacKenzie performed the movement, 
and he was a pupil of the MacCrimmon School. 

The two variations already defined have a melody that can be followed and 
admired by all who love piobaireachd. They are fond visions of the past, dear to 
the memory of the composer. The plaintive notes reminded him of the tragic death 
of his Chief, and how he was cruelly murdered. Then we come to the Taorluath, 
written in six-eight time, but should be two-four time, in keeping with the previous 
variations. We have the original sound and double echo, or three-syllabled move- 
ment, with the same initial notes as the First Variation. It comes down and always 
finishes on the low A, and follows the Urlar by a long Themal note in the last part 
of every second bar throughout. The Doubling of Taorluath should also be written 
in two-four time, not in six-eight, and it has the same number of bars as the Singling, 
only that the Themal notes are converted into the Taorluath movement right through. 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 53 

We can follow the author here as he tells his fellow-clansmen of the cowardly 
deed committed by a traitor and his lawless followers. He seems animated with 
revenge as he seeks to pursue the murderer. 

Finally we come to the Crunluath, the original sound and the quadrupling of it 
by echoes, or a five-syllabled movement. It is in keeping with the Singling of the 
Taorluath, with long Themal notes at intervals. The Doubling of Crunluath is also 
in keeping with the Doubling of Taorluath and is in the Crunluath movement through- 
out. Both are written in six-eight time, but should be written in two-four time. 
The performer goes deeper and deeper into the swelling notes of his slow and solemn 
dirge, for he finds that the traitors have fled in terror of their lives. He leaves the 
Crunluath and goes on to its Doubling notes in a passion that would encourage him 
to face a thousand armed men to repay the cruel death of his master. On finishing 
the Doubling of his Crunluath the performer's anger or passion melts into sorrow 
and anguish. As he returned to his Theme he bathed his sorrowing thoughts in its 
soothing notes, that will keep ever green in Celtic hearts the memory of a Highland 
Chieftain who was so good and great. 

" Cumha na Cloinne," 
" The Children's Lament," 

will be found in " Ceol Mdr," page 137, and it is a Lament most worthy of definition. 
Patrick Mor MacCrimmon, who succeeded his father, Donald Mor, was a great com- 
poser of piobaireachd. He had eight sons who all marched shoulder to shoulder to 
the church one Sunday, and before the end of the same year seven of them were buried 
in the churchyard at Kilmuir. Patrick Mor was so overcome with grief at losing 
practically all his family but one in the same year, that he gave vent to his sorrowing 
thoughts in this solemn and touching Lament. It is a great masterpiece, and one of 
the best specimens of piobaireachd composed by this famous race of Highland pipers. 
" Cumha na Cloinne " is looked upon as one of the finest tunes that ever adorned 
the pages of the " Ceol Mor " of the Celt, or touched the heart of the genuine High- 
lander with profound emotion. The Theme is a perfect example of the Lament. 
The MacCrimmons knew in minute detail the proper form of every class of piob- 
aireachd, and they used the right material in its proper place. The LTrlar is written 
in six-eight time, and has twenty-four bars in all, of eight bissed, twelve and four 
bars. There is an unfathomable depth of feeling or sorrow in this Lament. It is 
as deep as the unmeasured chasms that the ocean covers, and is an utterance of 
grief which a bereaved father and mother alone can feel. It is composed almost 

54 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

entirely of the F F F, E E E, D D D, and B B B movements, generally found in 
Laments. The Doubling of Urlar has got the same number of bars and written in the 
same time as the Urlar, with an additional note in every bar. Here we listen to a 
father telling of how he is sorrowing over the death of his children, who once climbed 
his knees to share the envied kiss. The composer looks back to the happiest days 
of his life when his family were young, and he caressed and fondled them, but now 
he has laid them to rest for ever. In Variation First we enter into a greater depth of 
sorrow, and a melody which may be described as peculiarly grand. It is in perfect 
keeping with the Theme, as all its notes are to be found in the same order, but written 
in two-four time with the same number of strains and bars as the Urlar. There is 
no Doubling to this variation. One can read in it of how the afflicted father and mother 
bore the heavy burden of grief, and how they missed the light footsteps going out 
in the early morning, and returning in the twilight hour. The Taorluath is written 
in six-eight, but should be two-four time, and it has the same number of bars as the 
previous variation. It is also in keeping with the Theme, and a longThemal note will 
be found in the last part of every second bar. The Doubling of Taorluath is written 
in six-eight, but should also be two-four time, and the long notes are converted into 
the Taorluath movement throughout the variation. If nothing else, one can hear 
the author tell of how he had hoped to see his sons take part in active life, and uphold 
the high musical qualities of their forefathers. If those seven sons had lived to 
mature age and each added as much to " Ceol Mor " as their predecessors, how many 
fine pieces have been lost with them ! 

At last we come to the Crunluath and its Doubling, which should both be written 
in two-four time instead of six-eight. They are in exact keeping with the Taorluath 
and its Doubling. The Singling of the Crunluath has its long Themal notes at intervals, 
and in the Doubling the long notes are substituted by Crunluath movements. As 
the father performs this multitude of notes they resemble the numerous thoughts 
that are passing through his mind, as he mourns the loss of those whom he loved so 
dear, and of whom cruel fate had deprived him. Leaving the Crunluath Variation 
with its turmoil of notes, he returns to his Theme as if he were afraid of disturbing 
his children in their last long sleep. He finishes up in the quiet and plaintive tone 
with which he began, bidding them adieu for ever, as his murmuring notes die away 
'mid the rustling leaves in the green dell. 

The last piobaireachd in this series which is worthy of definition is 
" Mort Ghlinne Comlianii," 
" The Massacre of Glencoe," 
and it will be found in Angus MacKay's " Collection of Ancient Piobaireachd," page 28. 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 55 

At four o'clock in the morning of the 13th day of February, 1692, this awful 
deed was enacted. Campbell of Glenlyon had dined as the friend of Maclain in his 
own house at Glencoe the night before the massacre, and in the early hours of the 
morning he carried out his murderous act of treachery. Maclain was shot dead in 
a cold-blooded manner at his own bedside, and his wife died next morning from 
distracted grief and brutal treatment. Maclain's two sons were wakened by an 
old domestic, who told them to rise and flee for their lives. " Is it time for you," 
he said, " to be sleeping when your father is murdered on his own hearth ? " They 
rose and fled unhurt, being so well acquainted with their mountainous country that 
they escaped the observation of the soldiers. This wholesale slaughter was carried 
out with fearful fury ; old and young lay dying and dead, while many perished in 
the snow on the mountain sides before they could reach a place of safety. 

Although this tune is entitled " The Massacre of Glencoe," a Lament it must be. 
If there were need to sorrow over the death of the Chief, and sorrow of a twenty- 
fold nature on the death of MacCrimmon's seven sons, surely there was room for 
grief of a thousand-fold here. Chief, Chieftainess, clansman, clanswoman, father, 
mother, and children old and young, perished on this fatal morn. There was never 
a deed committed in the annals of Scottish history to compare with it, or that could 
bring forth such sorrow. The composer of " The Massacre of Glencoe " is unknown. 
He did not call it the " Lament for MacDonald of Glencoe," or a " Lament for the 
Dead," because those titles must have been considered of too light a nature for him. 
He engraved it in the history of that time, and for ever, so deep that it can never 
be blotted out. If the composer was a MacDonald of that branch of the clan he 
named his tune by a more revengeful title in " The Massacre of Glencoe." 

The Theme, or L T rlar, is written in two-four time, and there is something in this 
piobaireachd that will test the skill of the piper in the definition of its construction. 
This is what may be termed a piobaireachd irregular in form, but nevertheless 
pleasing to the ear as regards melody. There are thirty-two bars in all in the Urlar. 
The first strain has got nine bars, with a second-time bar, or, when played in full, 
twelve bars in all. The second strain has twelve bars, and the last contains nine. 
Whether the error lies with the composer, the piper who played it to the collector, 
or the compiler, it can be seen that this Theme is constructed when written in full to 
represent twelve, twelve, and eight bars. Now, the first thing to notice is that 
the Theme is complete at the end of the twenty-ninth bar as it appears in print, 
but when playing it in full with the second time in the first strain, we find in all 
thirty-two bars, worked out, as I have already said, in three strains of twelve, twelve, 

56 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

and eight bars. The last bar in the Theme is quite unnecessary, and might have been 
added by someone in error. If not in error, then by some piper who did not know 
the proper form of piobaireachd. If it was added by the composer, it indicates 
irregularity and bad taste. The Thumb Variation is exactly the same as the Urlar, 
only that a high A is inserted in the first and last bars of the first and second strains, 
and the first and eighth bars of the last strain. Here we have a melody as deep as 
the mountainous passes in Glencoe itself. The sad and solemn wail of the notes 
already described casts a gloom over the very ground wherever the piper plays it. 
How many Highlanders who may chance to play this tune, or hear it played, think 
what it means. Alas ! there are few that can realize its awful meaning ! When I 
play it over, and think of the terrible deed, it often makes the hairs of my head 
stand on end with awe and trembling. The composer has depicted the scene of 
this act of injustice in a most beautiful and touching Theme. Like " MacLeod of 
Raasay's Salute," there is no Siubhal or First Variation. The Thumb Variation is 
followed by the Taorluath, and, strange to say, it is more irregular in form than the 
Urlar. The Taorluath has got twenty-six bars of eight, with a second time, making 
in all eleven, eleven, and seven, so that when played in full we have twenty-nine 
bars. This is three bars short of what the Urlar should be. Although it does not 
do so exactly, the Taorluath will pass as following the Urlar up to the end of the 
eighth bar. The ninth, or in reality when played in full, the twelfth bar of the 
Urlar is not represented in the Taorluath at all. This accounts for one bar short in 
the Taorluath. The seventh bar of the second part of the Urlar is not represented 
in the Taorluath. The eighth bar of the second part of the Urlar is represented in 
the Taorluath, although it is turned the other way about. Then two high A's appear 
in the Taorluath that are not shown in the Urlar, and the last bar of the Urlar is not 
represented in the Taorluath. The last part of the Taorluath, although it does not 
do so altogether, will pass as following the Urlar up to and including the seventh 
bar, but the eighth bar of the Urlar is not represented in the Taorluath. This accounts 
for the three missing bars in the Taorluath. As already indicated, the last bar in the 
Urlar, which is an extra one, is not represented in the Taorluath. The Doubling of 
Taorluath is in keeping with the Singling, and is in the same irregular form as com- 
pared with the U riar. Both the Taorluath and its Doubling should be written in two- 
four time. Here, again, we are led back to the valley of sorrow and death, and one 
can read from the sad notes of this variation that hundreds of the victims were 
beyond human aid on the night of the massacre. Such an event was enough to 
bewilder any composer in the regular construction of his tune, although I have no 
intention of putting this down as a back door for errors. 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 57 

Finally we reach the Crunluath and its Doubling, which are both in the same 
irregular form as the Taorluath and its Doubling. The errors which apply to the one 
are applicable to the other. The Crunluath and its Doubling should both be written 
in two-four time, not six-eight. In his final variations the composer enters into a 
maddening frenzy of grief, terror, and pain. He draws a long sigh and casts a last 
lingering look upon the valley still reeking with the warm blood that reddens the 
white snow. When the performer finishes his doubling notes he returns to his 
Theme so pathetically that it reaches the heart's very inmost core, and touches to 
overflowing the fount of tears, those tears of memory for the valley of Glencoe that 
time can never wipe away. 

The next species of piobaireachd for definition is the Farewell. Unfortunately, 
however, like the welcome, this type of tune must be stowed away in many instances 
under the title of the Lament. The Farewell is really a form of a Lament. In " Ceol 
Mor " we only find seven tunes of this type, and 

"Soiridh leat a Dhomhnuill," 
" Fare thee well, Donald," 

is a good specimen. 

There are other piobaireachdan which one is quite safe in putting down as 

Farewells, such as 

" Cha till MacCruimein," 

" MacCrimmon will never return," 


" Albainn bheadarach's mise 'gad fhagail," 
" Beloved Scotland, I leave thee gloomy." 

As there is still a long way to go, and a great number of tunes to be dealt with, 
I define only one under this heading. 

" Albainn bheadarach's mise 'gad fhagail " is really some patriotic Celt bidding 
farewell to bonnie Scotland, or tearing himself away from his picturesque Highland 
home. As there are beauties in Scotland to attract the eye of the stranger as well 
as the Gael, there is a melody not less attractive to the ear of all in " Beloved Scot- 
land, I leave thee gloomy." On this account I cannot resist the temptation of giving 
a minute description of such a fine piobaireachd. It will be found in " Ceol Mor," 
page 221. The name of the composer and the date are both far beyond our reach 
or recovery, for like many other important points they are lost in the mists of time 
that have passed for ever. There remains with us, fortunately, the most important 
part, that is the tune itself, which affords material to work upon. It is a beautiful 

58 Piobaireacbd : its Origin and Construction 

and touching Theme, and written in six-eight time, with twenty-four bars in all, 
made up of eight, eight, and eight bars. The first strain is played twice over. The 
Urlar begins on the low A and rises to E. Then a run from C to E again, bissed. 
The third bar is low G to D, and B running up to D again. The fourth bar is low 
G to B, then D with beat on B, or D, B B, and so on. There is no Doubling or Thumb 
Variation to the Urlar. What do those notes say or suggest to us ? Do they not 
seem to indicate a feeling of joy as we rise from A to E ? Joy because of the happy 
days spent in the land of bens and glens and heroes. The passage that runs from 
C up to E suggests the rolling up of pleasant memories of Scotia, to be unfolded and 
thought over again in the land where the author is to anchor after his pilgrimage. 
No wonder that the mystic minstrel got fitting material to create so fine a master- 
piece on this occasion. How much does it mean to the Highlander to tear himself 
away from the land of his birth ! Many thoughts crowd upon his mind, and his 
heart yearns for home. When he is settled in the far country, with the mighty 
ocean rolling between, he gazes across the briny deep for a glimpse of bonnie Scotland, 
but in vain. The variation following the Urlar is the Taorluath Breabach, written 
in six-eight time, with the same number of bars as the Ground. The first eight bars 
are in fairly good keeping with the Theme, but after this point it cannot be said 
that they agree. It is difficult to say whether the fault lies with the composer or 
the collector. This may be said to be one of the tunes that has suffered loss in 
some way or other. It would be a very easy matter to arrange the variations in 
keeping with the Urlar, although one is very chary of doing so for various reasons. 
At the same time there is a pleasing melody in the Taorluath Breabach Variation, 
and the Doubling agrees with the Singling. When we translate those wonderful 
notes into a story, we can see that the composer looks upon a country that was once 
cheery, but now bears a gloomy aspect. Whatever his reasons may be for leaving 
Scotland, he no longer sees a charm in it as in his childhood's days. Whether the 
mist had fallen around him or the gathering clouds of night had enveloped his stately 
form as he discoursed this last Farewell, I cannot fail to see that the leaving of his 
own mountain home aroused within his soul a passion which nothing could with- 
hold him from revealing. 

Finally we come to the Crunluath Breabach and its Doubling. They should 
both be written in six-eight time as they are performed, not in common time. Both 
variations are in keeping with the Taorluath Breabach and its Doubling, and they 
produce a peculiar feeling on the mind of the performer and those who listen to him. 
The composer has revealed his tale in a most loyal and pathetic manner. He is 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 59 

neither a traitor nor a coward. I say so because he has not miscalled his native 
land. He has left his story behind him in the form of a piobaireachd that can be 
read by those who alone can understand it and sympathise with him. As he plays 
the Theme once more before he lays his warpipe aside, he bathes his mingled thoughts 
in slow but plaintive notes as they rise from his chanter and float in the summer air 
of a sunny clime. His only hope is that those notes might be caught by the ear 
of some fellow exile who in turn may send the weird message on through his piob 
mhor until it dies away upon the purple heath-clad mountains of his native land. 

We are now about to enter upon the definition of the first type of martial 
piobaireachd belonging to the Highland clans of Caledonia. There are many tunes 
of the Gathering species in " Ceol Mor," and it is not an easy matter to choose which 
of them to deal with. One well worth description is 

" Cruinneachadh Chloinn=Raonuil," 
" The Gathering of the Clan Ranald." 

This piobaireachd was composed in the year 1715, and will be found in the 
second part of the " Piobaireachd Society's Collection," page 16. It was played to 
summon the Clan Ranald to the Battle of Sheriffmuir where their Chief was slain. 
The MacDonalds of Clan Ranald, Glengarry, and the Isles were all present, as well 
as a great number of other Highland clans. Sheriffmuir was a fatal field, and many 
gallant knights and nobles fell there to sleep their last sleep in the graves of heroes, 
with their swords by their sides. The Gathering was called forth in the time of war, 
when the fiery cross was hurried o'er mountain and through glen. In those days 
the piper often accompanied the war messenger with his hurried notes. The clans- 
men heard the summons in the distance, and every man turned out without flinching 
or fear of death, and rallied round the standard of their Chieftain. They left the 
scythe in the field, the stag on the hill, and the fair maiden in the hall, to fight for 
victory or die in the attempt. " The Gathering of the Clan Ranald" is one of the 
finest specimens of this type of piobaireachd that can be found. There is not the 
fine feeling about it that is to be found in the Salute or the Lament, and it is not 
intended to be so. It is of a warlike nature, and not a tune that encourages joy, or 
brings forth sympathy, but incites the clansmen to battle. The Urlar is written 
in common time, with twelve bars in all, of four with the first two bars bissed, 
making six, four with the last two bars bissed, and four bars played right through. 
This totals up at sixteen bars when played in full, and more clearly understood as 
three strains of six, six, and four bars. The second half of every second bar has 

60 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

the longThemal notes, and in the Doubling of the Urlar the long notes are done away 
with and replaced by others of the same nature right through. 

At the very outset we find that there is something startling about this class 
of piobaireachd. Whenever we hear it, as the clansmen of old did, we are startled 
by a wild confusion of notes, which indicates that there is something wrong. In 
the olden days those hurried notes warned the clansmen and told them that they 
were required without delay, and they understood their meaning. They would 
sacrifice everything rather than disobey the call to arms. The composer of this 
tune is unknown, but it belongs to a particular clan. Every clan had its own 
Gathering tune, e.g., the Camerons' Gathering, the Campbells' Gathering, the Grants' 
Gathering, and the Macfarlanes' Gathering. What is most peculiar about this 
species of piobaireachd is, that as every soldier knows each bugle call, so did the 
different clans recognise their own Gathering, which proves that even in those remote 
ages the Celt had peculiarities entirely his own, and was not found awanting in peace 
or war. 

The Urlar dwells on the low hand. There is a succession of groups of notes as 
follows : — G G G B, GGGB, G G G B, D B. This is the outstanding feature, or 
sign of the Gathering. No other class of piobaireachd has an Urlar like this. The 
Fosgailte, or Variation First, is written in two-four time, with sixteen bars of six, six, 
and four. In this variation all the notes begin on the low hand and rise to notes of 
a higher pitch, except where they follow the Urlar in the last half of every second 
bar when they descend. The Doubling is in keeping with the Doubling of the Urlar. 
It is a succession of couplets, all beginning on the low hand, and rises to higher notes 
according to the construction of the Urlar. Both these variations agree exactly with 
the Ground. It seems as if the piper were resting on his oars at this point. The 
passion of his war signal has abated, for his notes are now much slower than when 
he began. Whether the long notes which he now performs would or would not be 
heard better by the clansmen in the distance is hard to say, but he lingers on them 
as if he were preparing for another outburst of stirring notes. 

We now arrive at the Taorluath Fosgailte. It is written in two-four time, which 
produces a good rendering of this variation. There are sixteen bars, the same 
number as there are in the Urlar, with long notes occurring at the same intervals as 
in the First Variation. The Doubling of Taorluath Fosgailte is the same as the Singling, 
with the one exception, where the long notes are converted into the entire Toarluath 
Fosgailte movement. It will be observed here that the time is two-four, whereas 
in the Urlar it was common time. There were notes given to the value of four beats 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 61 

to the bar in the Theme, but now it has been reduced to two beats to each bar. While 
the performer lingered on the notes of his Fosgailte it was no sign of peace, but a 
calm before a storm. He pours forth the doubling notes as he hurries through the 
wild ravines and climbs the steep and rugged mountain sides. The frantic passion 
of war has possessed his heart and soul, for his duty lies before him. He follows 
the fiery cross with his war-announcing cry till he has traversed every corner of the 
clan territory, and his notes have rung in the ears of every clansman. 

Now we come to the final stage, the Crunluath Fosgailte, or open Crunluath 
Variation. It is always performed on the low G or A, rising to finish on the E. This 
variation should be written in two-four time, not six-eight. The Singling has the 
long Themal notes the same as the Singling of the First Variation and the Singling of 
theTaorluath Fosgailte, and the Doubling of Crunluath Fosgailte is performed in 
the same movement throughout. Both variations have sixteen bars each, of six, 
six, and four. Still faster and faster the minstrel scatters his maddening notes, as 
the clansmen buckle on their swords and targes. The right hand of the warrior 
is strong in battle. His heart knows no hesitation or fear, but obeys duty's call. 
This angry summons warns him of his danger ; there is no time for delay. Soon the 
standard of the Chief is crowded on every side, and the piper marches round and 
round playing his Theme once more with firm and determined devotion to duty. 
He fills the hearts of his fellow-clansmen with courage and urges them on to noble 
deeds. Who could wish to fill a position so full of honour, valour, and steadfast- 
ness as this hero with his Great Highland Bagpipe ; who does not owe him a debt of 
deepest gratitude ; and who would not see him raised to the high position second to 
none in the musical world, for he and his instrument can do what sword, shot, or shell 
can never hope to ! 

There are various other Gatherings, as I have already mentioned, but it would 
be disloyal and far from patriotic on my part if I were to pass over the Clan Grant. 

" Cruinneachadh na'n Grandach," 
" Craigellachie ; or, The Grant's Gathering," 

will be found in Angus MacKay's " Collection of Piobaireachd," page 33. It is a tune 
of a different type from that already described. The territory of the Clan Grant 
is in Strathspey, and their rallying place is the " Rock of Alarm." 

" Stand Fast, Craigellachie," is the Slogan or War-Cry of the Clan Grant, shouted 
often and long among the beetling cliffs so graphically alluded to by Ruskin in his 
" Two Paths." It is one of the loveliest districts in Scotland, where the peat 

62 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

cottages are darkest, just at the western foot of the great mass of the Grampians, 
which encircle the sources of the Spey and Dee. The main road which traverses 
the chain winds round the foot of a broken rock called " Craigellachie." There is 
nothing remarkable either in its height or form ; it is darkened with a few scattered 
pines and birch trees, and touched along the summit with a flush of heather, but it 
constitutes a sort of headland or leading promontory in the group of hills to which 
it belongs, a sort of initial letter of the mountains ; and thus stands in the minds of 
the inhabitants of the district — the Clan Grant — for a type of their country unto 
themselves. Their sense of this is beautifully indicated by the War-Cry of the clan — 
" Stand Fast, Craigellachie." You may think long over these words, without 
exhausting the deep well of feeling and thought contained in them — the love of the 
native land and the assurance of faithfulness to it. You could not have but felt 
if you passed beneath it at the time when so many of Britain's dearest children were 
being defended by the strength of heart of men born at its foot, how often among 
the delicate Indian palaces, whose marble was pallid with horror, and whose Ver- 
million was darkened with blood, the remembrance of its rough grey rocks and 
purple heath must have risen before the sight of the Highland soldiers ; how often 
the wailing of the shot and the shrieking of the battle would pass away from his 
hearing and leave only the whisper from the old pine branches of " Stand Fast, 

This is a description of the land of the Grants where stands Castle Grant, but 
the author of " Craigellachie" or " Cruinneachadh na'n Grandach" is unknown. 
The Gathering of the Clan Grant is illustrative of the land and of the warlike race to 
which it belongs, and I cannot do better than quote here a portion of the historic 
note on the tune — " The hearts of the brave 1,300 Highlanders, which the patriarchal 
influence of Sir James Grant raised for national defence in 1793, responded to the 
thrilling sounds which reminded them of friends and fatherland, and their feelings 
found vent in the ardent exclamation as the piper played Stabit-Craigellachie, i.e., 
" Craigellachie, Stand Firm." 

The Urlar of this piobaireachd is written in three-four time, with thirty-two 
bars, in three strains of twelve, twelve, and eight. It contains a deep well of incitement 
and inspiration, deep as the voluminous torrents of the angry Spey rolling on its 
way to the great ocean that receives every river in the world. One would be inclined 
to say that this Theme contains no hurried notes suggestive of the Gathering. It 
does not dwell on the low hand like the tune already dealt with, nor does it seem to 
hurry the clansmen on to the " Rock of Alarm." Nay ! it is schemed with a wiser 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 63 

judgment. The same inspiration is to be found in it as there is in the " Burning 
Mountain " itself. This Theme is equally divided between the high and the low 
hand. I can read from its series of wild and weird notes, what alone a Gathering 
means. The first, second, and eleventh bars of the first part, the third, fifth, seventh, 
and eleventh bars of the second part, and the third and seventh bars of the last 
part are so constructed as to give an alarming nature to the tune. While the fifth, 
sixth, and ninth bars of the first part, and so on, are emblems of sorrow. Yet in 
the second and twelfth bars of the first part, and so on, are warning notes for the 
clansmen to be armed with courage and steadfastness. Thus the performer warned 
the inhabitants of the strath of three things which are most important in the time of 
war. Every clansman is called upon to rally round the standard of his Chief ; they 
are told by those solemn notes that sorrow and death may ensue ; they are also filled 
with courage and inspired by the stirring notes of the war minstrel to be brave, even 
unto death. It is an unwritten law in the discipline of clanships that every man 
must face whatever may come. These are the signs to be found in a Theme with 
such a martial air about it, and what more is necessary in the hour of preparation 
for war. The author of this Gathering did not begin with hurried notes at the very 
outset, because he had something else to tell his clansmen of. It seems a feature of 
this clan to be calm and collected, such as the piper was when he composed the 
tune. This is not to be wondered at because their War-Cry is " Craigellachie, 
Stand Fast." The First Variation is of the Fosgailte, or open form, with the same 
number of bars as the Urlar, and written in two-four time. Here and there it comes 
from the high hand to the low hand more in the nature of the Urlar. The Doubling 
is entirely Fosgailte, always rising from the low A up to the high hand, low A being 
the long note. Both variations are in perfect keeping with the Ground. 

Now we come a grade nearer the real Gathering notes. Slow but sure the 
messenger of war is coming into the thick of his important duty. He forgets for the 
moment the fear, sorrow, and courage which his Theme indicates. His sole intention 
is to warn the clansmen to prepare for battle. Variation Second is entirely of the 
Taorluath Fosgailte form, and is written in common time, but should be two-four, 
as there are only two beats to the bar. In this variation, as well as the first and 
its doubling, a group of notes is missed in every bar. As will be observed, the Theme 
has three beats to the bar, or three distinct sections right through, and so should 
the variations have. There is ample room for such an omission, because the tune 
is long enough as it is. The Taorluath Fosgailte is in keeping with the Urlar in every 
way. Having warned the clansmen of what is to happen, the piper seems to lose 

64 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

no time in hurrying them on to their rallying place. When war is declared there 
must be no delay, for the enemy soon 'approaches. 

We come now to a plain Taorluath with a long Themal note every here and there. 
The Doubling of Taorluath is of the usual Taorluath movement right through. Both 
variations are in accordance with the Ground, and should be written in two-four 
time instead of six-eight. This may be termed rather unusual to have a plain 
Taorluath Variation in a Gathering, but the master in this case must have had wise 
intentions. He had no desire to have a lull in the enthusiasm for battle. He seems 
to caution and encourage the clansmen to remember that every man is expected to 
do his duty. The Crunluath and its Doubling are the final variations, both of which 
are in keeping with the Urlar, but they should be written in two-four instead of six- 
eight time. The clansmen have gathered in full muster with belted plaid, claymore, 
and targe. Arrayed on the field near the " Rock of Alarm " are the Grants of 
Tulloch Gorum, Glenmorriston, and Rothiemurchus, and last, but not least, the 
Grants of Castle Grant. No fear is nursed, no dismay is thought of, no heart shall 
be daunted by the appearance of the enemy, those notes seem to say. The piper 
appears to vouch for every man, and encourages the clan in his last efforts to victory 
or death upon the field of conflict. Returning to his Theme he reminds the clansmen 
that in victory, when the combat is over, every heart shall rejoice. However far 
they may have to traverse before the enemy is defeated ; however great their hard- 
ships may be ; or however dark the night may seem to those who sleep their last 
sleep on the field of victory, the beacon ever burns brightly on the " Rock of Alarm " 
as an emblem of loyalty to their Chief. In their War Cry this clan has an assurance 
of a threefold nature — " Stand Fast, Craigellachie," " Stand Sure," " Stand Firm," 
for ever ! 

After the Gathering comes the March or Challenge. The clansmen have gathered 
round their standard, but before they reach the scene of battle the piper plays the 
March in the form of a piobaireachd. This is a declaration of war, or a Challenge 
to the enemy to fight. We have several tunes under this title, such as " MacNeill 
of Barra's March," " The Duke of Perth's March," " The Earl of Ross' March," 
" The MacLean's March," and " The MacRae's March." I intend to define only 
one piobaireachd under this class, and 

" Spaidsearachd Mhic Rath," 
"The MacRae's March," 

which will be found in Angus MacKay's " Collection of Piobaireachd," page 21, is 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 65 

worthy of attention. This wonderful tune was composed about the year 1491, but 
its composer is unknown. According to Angus MacKay's notes, the personage 
who gave rise to a piobaireachd of which those of his name are so proud, was Duncan 
MacRae, an orphan brought up in the Castle of Loch Kinellan, the Seat of the Chief 
of the MacKenzies, under whose banner the Clan MacRae fought. This devoted 
follower was known by the name of " Suarachan," a term of contemptuous signifi- 
cation. His physical prowess, however, and undaunted valour were great, and on 
this occasion he founded a good claim to a higher consideration than had formerly 
been afforded him. He mixed in the battle with impetuous valour, and speedily 
brought down his foemen. In a hand-to-hand conflict, when, like the " Gobhadh 
Crom," on the North Inch of Perth, he thought he had done all that was expected 
or required of him, and calmly seated himself on the body of the slain. MacKenzie, 
astonished at this behaviour during a hot conflict, called out sharply, " What ! sit 
you so, when your help is wanted ? " " If I am paid like a man, I will fight like a 
man, and if everyone does as much as I have done," replied Suarachan, " the day 
is yours." " Kill your two, and you shall have the wages of two," replied the Chief, 
and the obedient follower did his behest, and again sat down upon the lifeless body 
of his fallen foe. " Kill your three ! " cries the fiery Chief ; " nay, fight on, I will not 
reckon with you for days' pay." Suarachan, it is said, fought like a lion, till he had 
killed no fewer than sixteen of the enemy, and thus he proved his worth, and was 
ever afterwards held in high esteem, becoming a leading man in the clan, and 
acquiring the more honourable appellation of " Donacha mor na Tuagh," i.e., " Big 
Duncan of the Axe," the weapon which he had wielded to such purpose. This tune 
was adopted ever after by the Clan MacRae as their Challenge, or March to battle. 
Surely this is a challenge, a combat, and a victory. 

The Urlar of " The MacRae's March," as one would expect, is of a war-like 
nature. It is written in common time, with sixteen bars in all, of six, six, and four. 
Every bar has two groups of four notes each, with the exception of the last half 
of the fourth and sixth bars of the first part, the second and sixth bars of the second 
part, and the second and fourth bars of the last part, which all descend from C to A, 
and B to G alternately. All the other groups of notes fall and rise as they go on 
systematically, C B A F, E A E E, and so on, producing a peculiar feeling of accusa- 
tion, or objection to some grievance which had led to blows in those remote ages. 
It is unlike any other class of Theme, and to a great extent is a repetition of trouble 
of some sort, that could only be settled by two or more clans meeting in battle array. 

The Urlar is followed by a Doubling, termed here the Siubhal Ordaig, which 

66 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

means the Thumb Variation. The author repeats his Theme with the high A at 
intervals, giving his Challenge more force or effect. The Siubhal Ordaig is just a 
repetition of the Urlar, with the high A coming in at the beginning of almost every 
bar. The author of this piobaireachd had good reason for being proud of his 
fellow-clansman, so brave, as well as his entire clan, and he gave them a Challenge 
of no mean order of merit to last them for future generations as an incitement to 
war. As the minstrel approaches the enemy he tells them that the fear of death 
is no barrier in the way of a clan whose record is so great. 

The next variation is the Taorluath Breabach. It is in perfect keeping with the 
Theme, written in the same time and has the same number of bars. I am of opinion, 
however, that this variation should be written in six-eight time, as one can see that 
the first and last notes in the Crunluath Breabach get the most time, and so should 
they in this variation. Themal notes occur every here and there, and distinguish 
the Singling from the Doubling, which is all performed in the Taorluath Breabach 
movement right through. On go the wild accusing notes as the piper leads the 
clansmen to the field of battle. There they are to settle their differences in bloody 
conflict, and every man had to be a hero or be numbered with the slain. 

Finally the piper reaches the quickest of all movements in the Crunluath 
Breabach, which is in keeping with the Urlar and written in common time. This 
variation should be written in six-eight time as it is played. The Doubling of 
Crunluath Breabach is in regular form, and should also be written in six-eight time. 
Who that is born with Highland blood in his veins but must realize that the hour 
of victory or death is at hand ! The field is reached and the word of command is 
given. Those notes of courage rise and fall on the ears of the clansmen, and they 
are frantic with enthusiasm and love of valour, love of glory and fame being added 
to their name. Such is the translation that I can find in this fine tune. On returning 
to his Theme the piper did not do so without having something to be proud of. But 
for Suarachan the day might have been lost. He was a hero of heroes, to whose 
praise the piper found a Theme with suitable variations to exalt his name and record 
his gallant deeds, and few other clans can claim so great a record. 

The Challenge leads us on to the piobaireachd next in order to it, that is the 
Battle Tune. There are several piobaireachdan in this class also, but one outstanding 
in Scottish history is 

" Cath fuathasach, Peairt," 
" The Desperate Battle, Perth." 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 67 

It is as great, if not a greater act of horror, than the combat just described in the 
previous tune, and a good setting will be found in Donald MacPhee's " Collection of 
Piobaireachd," page 14. About the year 1392 a feud or quarrel arose between the 
Clan Chattan and the Clan Kay. It was resolved that the difference should be 
decided by a combat of thirty men of the one side against thirty men of the other ; 
that the battle should take place on the North Inch of Perth, a beautiful and level 
meadow, in part surrounded by the river Tay ; and that it should be fought in 
presence of the king and his nobles. The parties on each side were drawn out, armed 
with sword and target, axe and dagger, and stood looking on each other with fierce 
and savage aspect, when, just as the signal for fight was expected, the commander 
of the Clan Chattan perceived that one of his men, whose heart had failed him, had 
deserted his standard. There was no time to seek another man from the clan, so 
the Chieftain, as his only recourse, was obliged to offer a reward to anyone who would 
fight in room of the fugitive. One might think that it would have been difficult to 
get a man who, for a small hire, would undergo the perils of a battle which was likely 
to be so obstinate and deadly. But in that fighting age men valued their lives 
lightly. A man of the name of Henry Wynd, a citizen of Perth, and a saddler by 
trade, a little bandy-legged man, but of great strength and activity, and well 
accustomed to use the broadsword, offered himself for half a French crown, to serve 
on the part of the Clan Chattan on the day of battle. The signal was given by the 
sound of the royal trumpets, and of the great war-pipes of the Highlanders, and the 
•two parties fell upon each other with the utmost fury ; their natural ferocity of 
temper being excited by feudal hatred against the hostile clan, zeal for the honour 
of their own, and a consciousness that they were fighting in presence of the king and 
nobles of Scotland. As they fought with the two-handed sword and axe, the wounds 
they inflicted on each other were of a ghastly size and character. Heads were 
cloven asunder, and limbs were lopped from the trunk. The meadow was soon 
drenched with blood, and covered with dead and wounded men. In the midst of 
the deadly conflict the Chieftain of the Clan Chattan observed that Henry Wynd, 
after he had slain one of the Clan Kay, drew aside, and did not seem willing to 
fight more. " How is this," said he, " are you afraid ? " " Not I," answered 
Henry, " but I have done enough of work for half-a-crown." " Forward and fight," 
said the Highland Chief ; "he that doth not grudge his day's work, I will not stint 
him in his wages." Thus encouraged, Henry Wynd again plunged into the conflict, 
and, by his excellence as a swordsman, contributed a great deal to the victory, which 
at length fell to the Clan Chattan. Only one of the Clan Kay survived, and he 

68 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

was unhurt. It was said that his kinsmen did not give him a very good reception, 
and he put himself to death. That terrible conflict, of which I have given a short 
account, has been recorded in " Ceol Mor " under the title of " The Desperate 

The Theme of this fine piobaireachd is in every way a real specimen of the Battle 
Tune, and its most striking features are the series of war-like strains which suggest 
an awful outburst of deadly hatred. As can be seen from the construction of the 
Urlar, the chosen clansmen from each tribe are liberated by the signal of the war- 
pipes to give vent to their fury as they indulge in savage and bloody conflict. The 
Urlar is written in common time, and has sixteen bars in all. There are only two 
strains in this Theme. The second strain of eight bars is really a repetition of the 
first eight bars, with a high A taking the place of E in the second, fourth, sixth, 
and eighth bars. The First Variation and its Doubling are given by MacPhee in 
common time, but they are better expressed in six-eight time. In the Singling of 
the First Variation, when written in six-eight of two groups of notes to the bar, the 
first note in each group is a dotted quaver, the second a semi-quaver, and the last 
note a quaver. It cannot be said that the variations in this tune are in strict keeping 
with the Urlar. Some notes are brought into the variations which do not appear 
in the Urlar, but they are not altogether out of place for the reason that they produce 
a war-like feeling. One can see from the construction of this variation that the 
combatants are getting very fierce in their attitude towards each other as they 
carry on their fearful conflict. The Doubling of Variation First is somewhat changed. 
The first note is cut short, a semi-quaver, the second a quaver, and the third is a 
dotted quaver. Their anger is now becoming fiercer and fiercer, and their desire 
to end the struggle has reached the most acute state of frenzy. In fact, the very 
swing or lunge of the sword is imitated in this variation. Another change takes 
place in the construction of these variations. A complete close can be observed at 
the end of the sixth, twelfth, and sixteenth bars, making three strains. This is not 
usual in piobaireachd, but nevertheless, it is the case here. Variation Second is 
written in two-four time with the same number of bars and strains. The high A 
is the leading note as it occurs in every group, and the second note in the couplet 
varies. The second note gets the most value, and all the high A's are cut short. 
It seems as if there were a lull in the battle at this point, because the piper rests on 
every second note. A calm forebodes a storm, or fiercer onslaught, and it is the 
case in this instance. Something peculiar happens in the Doubling of Variation 
Second. The notes are all turned right about, the last notes of the movements in 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 69 

the Singling are first in the Doubling, and the high A's are long instead of short. 
The little band of Highlanders on either side wield their swords with greater activity, 
and the battle rages with agonizing and more fatal results. Variation Third, or what 
is termed the Siubhal, is the next in order, with its Doubling. Both are written in 
two-four time, and the first note gets the accent. Again there is a lull in the whole- 
sale slaughter. The piper rests on his notes as if he were advising them to withdraw 
from each other. Now we come to the Doubling of the Taorluath. There is no 
Singling in this tune. The Doubling is given in six-eight time, but should be written 
in two-four. Again both sides seem to get more furious towards each other, and 
many lie dead and wounded on the field. We come next to the Taorluath-a-mach, 
which is an attractive and faster movement. It should also be written in two-four 
time. The first note in the mach movement should be the shortest and the last of 
most value. The piper indicates in this variation the approaching end of the 
combat, and the field could tell its own tale. 

Finally the Doubling of the Crunluath and the Crunluath-a-mach brings victory 
to the Clan Chattan, and sorrow, death, and defeat to the Clan Kay. Both varia- 
tions are written in six-eight, but should be two-four time. There is no Singling of 
the Crunluath, for it seems as if the minstrel had hurried on towards a tragic end. 
The doubling notes roll on, and the trebling comes still faster till all is again at rest. 
Of those chosen clansmen few leave the field, and many lie in agony and death, never 
to rise again. If the piper returned to his Theme as he usually does, it could not be 
to rehearse an act or scene pleasing to the ear or attractive to the eye, but the 
repetition of a tale of woe that would never be forgotten by the surviving clansmen 
or the royal spectators. 

One other piobaireachd in this class worthy of definition is 

" Blar Sliabh an t-Shirra," 
" The Battle of Sheriffmuir." 

It will be found in Angus MacKay 's "Collection of Ancient Piobaireachd, ' ' page 63 . 
" Blar Sliabh an t-Shirra " was composed by Findlay Dubh MacRae, a piper of note, 
in the year 1715. Sheriffmuir was a well-fought but indecisive battle for the Stuart 
cause, and many a brave Chieftain and loyal clansman never left that fatal field. 

The number slain at the battle of Sheriffmuir totalled about fourteen hundred, 
and in these figures a large proportion of the Highland clans of Scotland were repre- 
sented. A sight of this gory field was enough to stagger humanity, for knights, nobles, 
and clansmen lay dying and dead. Scotland's best and bravest warriors of that 

yo Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

age fell for Bonnie Prince Charlie. Could there be found a more fitting Theme than 
this for the mystic minstrel to record in this specimen of ancient piobaireachd ? We 
have no authentic proof, but it is quite possible that the composer was on the field 
of carnage, as the Clan MacRae fought at Sheriffmuir, under the banner of the Earl 
of Seaforth. 

The Urlar of the " Battle of Sheriffmuir " is written in three-four time, and 
has sixteen bars, in three strains of six, six, and four bars. The Thumb Variation, or 
Doubling of the Ground, only varies where the F movement occurs, and it is sub- 
stituted for a high A, with a high A grace-note. The Theme with its Doubling has 
a feeling of death and horror about it. The composer tells us in his sad and mournful 
notes of the great battle in which so many brave warriors perished, and of how the 
Highlanders cherished the hope of bringing back their Jacobite leader to the throne 
of bonnie Scotland, once and for all. The notes come down in most cases to the 
lower hand, and they produce a low moaning hum. Then they rise to the F, and 
in the Thumb Variation to the high A, just as the swell of the battle rose and fell. 
The First Variation is of the same form as that to be found in the Lament, and can it 
be wondered at ? It comes from the higher notes down to low A, and every couplet 
of notes in the Urlar is represented. On that account this is a perfect piobaireachd, 
and works out in regular form from beginning to end. The Doubling of Variation 
First is in perfect order, and differs from the Singling in that its form is A A, B B, 
and F F, and so on, instead of A A, B A, and F A. The first note of each couplet 
gets most time value in Singling and Doubling. Both variations are in agreement 
with the Urlar and written in three-four time. In the Singling one can see that 
the piper tells us of the sorrow that he feels within his own heart for the wounded 
and dying, but the Doubling seems to bring to one's mind the actual waves of piteous 
cries that rose from the field during the heat of battle. I feel certain that many 
Highlanders, both officers and men, who may chance to read this volume, know too 
well what the meaning of war is, better by far than I can ever attempt to describe. 
The notes in these variations cannot fail to bring the tears to the eyes of those who 
understand what they mean, because the composer has given them to us in a strain 
which may be characterised as being particularly effective. Variation Second is of 
the Fosgailte or open style, while its Doubling is in the Taorluath Fosgailte form. They 
are both in keeping with the Urlar and previous variations. The Singling is written 
in three-four time, and so should the Doubling, although it is given in six-four. 
Those two variations resemble the " Gathering," and seem as if the piper were giving 
the warning of fresh arrivals, or urging them on to the place of conflict. His hurried 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 71 

notes indicate that a change has taken place, and soon the heat of the battle will 
be over. Leaving the Taorluath Fosgailte we now enter into a plain Taorluath move- 
ment, with a Singling and Doubling which should be written in three-four time 
instead of nine-eight. Both variations agree with the Ground in every way. Again 
the composer returns to the calm and mournful notes that are to be found in the 
" Lament." Although this is a " Battle Tune," still it is a Lament as well, for many 
a sorrowing mother received the sad tidings when the battle was over, and many 
a child was fatherless. 

Finally we arrive at the Crunluath and its Doubling. They should be written 
in three-four time. Each movement should be given in the time value of a crotchet, 
and not written in nine-eight time as it appears in the book. This tumult or buzz 
of notes brings to a close the story of what may be estimated as one of the greatest 
days that has ever been recorded in the annals of Highland history. Those heroes 
will never be forgotten so long as " CeolMor" contains these war-like notes of a most 
wonderful and effective Theme with its awe-inspiring variations. The composer 
returns to his Ground only to bring back to his mind the carnage of a dismal field. 

It may not be out of place to mention here that it is very gratifying indeed to 
see that the president and members of the Clan MacRae Society, whose ancestors 
fell at Sheriffmuir, are about to raise a cairn as a memorial of their heroic deeds. 
This shall be an evergreen emblem of loyalty which will mark the scene of a great 
battle that took place one hundred and ninety-eight years ago, and is not to be 
forgotten by the patriotic Celts of to-day. 

The last series of tunes, according to the order of classification, is the Warning, 
and one which I cannot pass over is 

"Caismeachd a Phiobaire da Mhaighsteir, na Piobaireachd Dhunaomhaig," 
" The Piper's Warning to his Master, or The Piobaireachd of Dunyveg." 

It will be found in Angus MacKay's " Collection of Ancient Piobaireachd," page 125, 
and its history is as follows : — 

About the year 1647 Campbell of Calder was commissioned by the Earl of 
Argyll to proceed against the MacDonalds, and expel them from the Island of Islay, 
where Coll Ciotach, the celebrated commander under the heroic Montrose, had 
taken up his residence with a number of his followers. Calder accordingly procured 
the assistance of several tribes of the Campbells, and it is believed MacDougall of 
Lorn, Chief of his name, and their first exploit was an assault on the Castle of Dunad, 
which was stormed and razed to the ground. Coll and several of his followers who 

J2 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

were then in the castle made their escape and took refuge in Dunyveg, where they 
were again besieged. Coll, finding his force too weak to repulse the besiegers, took 
boat by night to procure assistance in Kintyre and Ireland, and left the castle in 
charge of his mother. Calder, having discovered that he had left the castle, and 
guessing the object he had in view, determined in like manner to increase his own 
strength, in order to meet any addition which the garrison might receive, and retiring 
for this purpose, the troops were left in command of the Lady of Dunstaffnage, a 
bold, masculine woman. It is a tradition among some that it was proper for one 
woman to oppose another, and hence the absence of both commanders at the same 
time, when the departure of one would naturally favour the success of the other, 
an advantage which the generosity of the Gael would not permit them to take. 
However this may be, while the leaders were absent, the heroines were not idle, 
for the wooden pipe which conveyed the water to the castle was discovered, and of 
course the supply was cut off, in consequence of which the garrison was compelled 
to surrender. The night after the surrender, the piper whose profession secured 
the respect of the visitors, recognised the boirlinn, or boat of his master, Coll, on its 
return ; and that he might apprise him of his danger, and prevent his falling into 
the hands of the enemy, he asked leave to play a piece of music he had composed 
on the misfortune that had befallen his clan. His request was readily granted, 
when he went on the battlements and commenced to play a piobaireachd. Coll was 
just entering the bay, on the shore of which the remains of the castle are still to be 
seen, and hearing the new tune, with that quick conception of its import, now 
heightened by the critical situation of affairs, at once put about, and passing through 
the strait formed by a rock in the bay, he escaped. The Lady of Dunstaffnage was 
so enraged with the piper for this act, that the following day she made him play tunes 
of the merriest cast, as he walked before her to the top of a high hill, about five miles 
off, and when there, she sternly ordered his fingers to be cut off, so that he never 
more might give a similar warning. The hill is the highest in Islay, and from that day 
has been distinguished as the hill of the bloody hand, that is " Beinn laimh Dhearg," 
now corruptly " Beinn Illairaig." 

The Theme of this wonderful Warning, or wireless message, with all its ingenious 
method of conveying dangerous tidings, is written in common time, and contains in 
all twenty-two bars, of eight bissed, six, and eight. Beginning with the little 
finger movement and coming up to the E, then running from E again down to A, 
after which it rests on the D, and so on right through the Urlar. Here we find the 
piper warning his master of his danger, and, by his efforts, Coll was prevented from 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd y\ 

approaching the death-trap just laid for him. Coll never heard this piobaireachd 
before, yet he knew it was a warning, and he took it, otherwise death might have 
been his alternative. Who is he that says there are no words expressed, or story 
told by the most wonderful art of piobaireachd ? What can bring the fact home 
with more effect than this instance ? How coolly and cleverly the minstrel went 
about communicating with his master ! The piper and Coll were both equipped 
with the necessary means of sending off the message and receiving it. In other 
words, they were both genuine Celts, and only they could have conveyed and received 
such a message. The Siubhal or First Variation has the same number of bars as the 
Ground, and agrees with it entirely. It is written in two-four time, resting on the 
higher notes, and always coming down to the low A. The Doubling is also in proper 
order, and every note is doubled here. Two notes of the same name follow each 

There is something strange to be found in those variations, not because they 
are of a new, or distinct form from those already met with. We find this specimen 
of variation in several different kinds of piobaireachd. What is peculiar about the 
melody or leading notes of the Theme is that it produces a feeling of doubt or fear on 
the part of Coll who is approaching the bay. The piper is telling his master that a 
trap has been laid, and warns him to steer backwards. Coll reads the message, 
changes his course without delay, and avoids the attack of his enemies. 

Now we come to the Taorluath, which should be written in two-four time, not 
six-eight as given. It is in perfect order, and rests every here and there on long 
Themal notes. The Doubling of Taorluath agrees with the Singling, only that it is 
performed in the Taorluath movement right through. In both variations it seems 
as if the piper had laid his plans well, and was conveying the secret warning under 
the usual piobaireachd, or Taorluath form. Although this was a familiar variation, 
Coll could follow a strange warning strain in it, and the piper was successful in his 
efforts to save his master from disaster. 

Finally we arrive at the Crunluath and its Doubling, both of which should be 
written in two-four, not six-eight time. They are in regular order, and agree with 
the Urlar and previous variations. The performer reaches the final strains of his 
peculiar form of signal, and his master speeds on his way to safety. He contents 
himself in his performance, and continues it as if nothing had happened, little 
thinking what his cruel fate was to be on the completion of his tune. On all occasions 
the piper returns to the Theme before he lays the instrument aside, but it is most 
probable that his message was detected, and he was not afforded this opportunity. 

74 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

From the history of the tune it will be observed that the price of this fatal piob- 
aireachd was the severing of the piper's fingers from his hand. Alas ! no more would 
he finger his great war-pipe. It was silenced for ever, as a sacrifice to his master. 
The clansman's vow is to fight for his Chieftain or die by his side. Surely this High- 
lander's fidelity to his master was unparalleled. He was the hero, and the Lady of 
Dunstaffnage was the coward. 

The " Ceol Mor " of the Celt comprises some three hundred tunes altogether. A 
single volume could not contain an analysis of them all, but there are still several 
outstanding piobaireachdan that are worthy of a short explanation. 

"Cluig Pheairt," 
"The Bells of Perth," 

formed a Theme in the ear of the piper. They had a peculiarly charming sound, and 
in a fine piobaireachd the author imitated their melodious chime, which for many 
years called the Highlanders in the surrounding districts, and the inhabitants of 
Perth to worship. In the Urlar one can almost hear the bells ringing, the imitation 
is so striking and suggestive of the actual sound. The variations are so constructed 
as to produce the echoes which are resounded to the ear from the neighbouring 
buildings. In a calm day the bells can be heard some twenty miles distant. Then 
they sound most sweetly in the ear, and possibly the composer of " Cluig Pheairt " 
was in the distance when inspired to create this piobaireachd. 

"Port a' Bhata," 
" The Boat Tune." 

Boating on the river, the loch, or in the sea in the neighbourhood of the shore 

has a pleasing fascination. Even this natural sensation prompted the composer of 

piobaireachd to record in his national music a suitable Theme with its variations to 

express his feelings of pleasure derived from indulgence in this ancient pastime. 

The fine effect of the sound of the piob mhor on the still waters is here produced, as 

the notes rise and fall like the boat in the swell of the rising tide. Nowhere does the 

bagpipe sound more sweetly than on the waters in a cool summer evening. The 

notes float in the quiet atmosphere with a mellow sound, and die away on the 

surrounding hills. 

" Albainn Bheadarrach," 

" Cheerful Scotland." 

While the piper found suitable notes to express his sorrow at leaving Scotland 
in the tune which I have already analysed, on the other hand the author of this 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 75 

piobaireachd has expressed the joy and pleasure that he had found in his native 
Highland home. What finer material could be found for a Theme than the land 
whose sons are ever foremost ? Where could the creator of piobaireachd find a 
more interesting series of events to form variations illustrative of a simple but healthy 
and invigorating mode of life ? The ardent and industrious Highlander wants for 
nothing in his own sphere, and his domestic duties as well as his ancient pastimes 
are the means of creating the deepest curiosity on the part of the Lowlander. His 
picturesque Highland garb is the prettiest sight that anyone can wish to see, and it 
is admired by people of every nationality. It is the dress that adorns the mystic 
minstrel who gave us a Theme so beautiful with all its fairy charms. 

"A bhratach Shith," 
"The Fairy Flag." 
This piobaireachd is one of the many gems which illuminate the pages of " Ceol 
Mor." The home of "The Fairy Flag " is in Dunvegan Castle, but who the com- 
poser of the tune was remains a mystery. It is a question if ever the flag was 
unfurled on the ramparts where the great MacCrimmon used to perform his most 
attractive masterpieces. The piper tells us in his Theme and variations how the 
magic pennon was possessed of so many superstitious qualities. It will be remem- 
bered that the " Fairy Queen " was said to have given the young MacCrimmon a 
" Silver Chanter " on the eve of his entering " The Cave of Gold." Was it he who 
composed this beautiful piece ? Perhaps it will never be revealed, but the fairies 
had a great liking for the piob mhor. They were also said to have led the piper 
into their palaces where the pipe sounded with a sweetness that was far beyond 
description, and the interior of their abodes dazzled his eye with their brilliance. 

"An Suiriche siogach," 
" The Frisky Lover." 

Some Highland piper must have been so impressed with the behaviour of the 
gay or frolicsome lover that he was moved to compose a piobaireachd to express his 
ideas about this great passion. Not only does love make life a paradise, but it has 
been the means of supplying the author of this tune with the necessary material to 
form a Theme with variations not less charming than the joys to be found in " Love's 

golden dream." 

" 'S learn Sheim an Gleann," 
"The Glen is Mine." 

This piobaireachd was composed by John, son of Patrick MacCrimmon, who 
was piper to the Earl of Seaforth. The author played his new Theme with variations 

j6 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

for the first time going through Glen Shiel. Lord Seaforth was delighted to hear 
MacCrimmon telling him through his great warpipe that the glen was his (Seaforth's) 
own. Where would the beauties of Scotland be without the corry and the glen, 
and but for Glen Shiel the great music of the Gael would have suffered loss. " The 
Glen is Mine " is a great favourite of all the Highland lairds who possess a " glen," 
and MacCrimmon has illustrated with marked effect the charms of a journey through 
the mountainous ravine. The notes that sounded so sweetly in the ear of a great 
Highland Chieftain in the days that are gone have not lost their power to move the 
Highland heart to realize what they mean. 

" An t-Suipear bheag," 
" Lament for the Little Supper." 

Whether it was the composer of this tune, or some of his friends who did not 
get sufficient food, evidently the grievance suggested as a Theme to the author's 
mind the grumbling of some discontented individual. Whoever it was that did not 
get enough supper to quench his hunger, in the notes of this piobaireachd he vented 
his complaint with indignant wrath. 

" Thuair mi pog o laimh au Righ," 
" I got a Kiss of the King's Hand." 

Patrick Mor MacCrimmon having played his pipes before the king, His Majesty 
was so pleased with his performance that he graciously condescended to allow 
MacCrimmon the honour of kissing hands. It was on this occasion that Patrick Mor 
composed " Thuair mi pog o laimh an Righ." To those who are acquainted with 
the language of " Ceol Mor," the Highland bagpipe speaks of the author's pride and 
gratitude for such a high and honourable privilege being conferred upon him. 

" Mai an Righ," 
" The King's Taxes." 

As everyone knows, taxes are not an easy matter nowadays, and even in the 
olden times the taxpayer only paid the amount levied with a grudge. This trans- 
action was not allowed to pass without being recorded in the piper's ledger. What- 
ever the amount of the tax might have been the piobaireachd here referred to has a 
beautiful Theme, and if the composer was a victim to excessive taxation he does not 
lament his position in the pleasing notes which he has given us to perform. 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd yj 

" An Daorach bheag," 
"The Little Spree." 

Like the " Little Supper," the composer of this piobaireachd seems not to have 
got enough refreshments to meet his demands, hence we have another very inter- 
esting Theme with its variations. One would be inclined to consider that if he got 
the length of a spree, little or big, he had quite sufficient, although he did not seem 
to be of this opinion. In this case, besides music, " whisky hath charms." 

" Cumha na Suipearach Moire," 
" Lament for the Great Supper." 

The composer of this piobaireachd seems to be sorry, either because he had eaten 
too much, or because this meal was past with all its temptations. The piper is 
telling us that he looked back with regret on some great repast, which might have been 
given by the Chief of his clan to celebrate some important event, and as we play the 
tune now, it reminds us of the grand old times that are past and gone for ever. 
Then the piper made a record of great events, but now they are allowed to pass 

" Mai Dhonn," 
" MacCrimmon's Sweetheart." 

The MacCrimmons were a race worthy of the highest position in the piping 
world in their own time, and they have never since been equalled. They were never 
absent from the field of battle when their services were required. In the field of 
piobaireachd they were foremost, and they have left their mark behind them. When 
MacCrimmon composed this grand Theme he recorded in the music he lived for, the 
heavenly joys of love, the love that joins two hearts and souls together. If he loved 
his sweetheart as he loved piobaireachd, they were united heart and hand by ties 
that nothing on earth could break asunder. He had a heart to love, and a soul for 
music with charms that never fail to inspire those who admire " Ceol Mor." 

" Thoir domh pog, a luaidh mo chridhe," 
" My Dearest on Earth, give me your Kiss." 

Probably the composer of this piobaireachd was shy. He might not have had 
the courage to kiss his sweetheart, but with the assistance of his bagpipe he passion- 
ately requests his dearest on earth to give him her kiss. In the notes of a new 
Theme he expresses his secret desire, and tells his lover in those melodic strains, a 
story that requires no words to explain. 

y$ Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

" A' Bhiodag bhoidheach," 
"The Pretty Dirk." 

Although this is a comparatively short piobaireachd, nevertheless it is a pretty 
little tune, which was composed by Patrick Og MacCrimmon. MacLeod of MacLeod 
had a fine dirk that was very much admired by MacCrimmon. The Laird told 
Patrick 6g that if he composed an appropriate tune in its praise he would receive 
the weapon. The great MacCrimmon lost no time in creating a suitable Theme, for 
the next morning he struck up his new tune. MacLeod was so delighted with the 
melody, which was produced in such a short space of time, that he called MacCrimmon 
into the castle, presented him with the dirk, and told him that he well deserved it. 

" Spiocaireachd Iasgaich," 
" Scarce of Fishing." 

The composer of this delightful melody is telling us through his Great Highland 
Bagpipe of the scarcity of fish. When the fishing season was bad, it meant a great 
loss to the Highlanders in the west. Fish formed part of their food, and the fishing 
industry was their chief occupation. The piper is here lamenting his loss, and 
doubtless he hoped to see the day returning when he could ply his oars and cast his 
net more successfully into the great ocean that surrounds his Highland home. How 
peculiar it seems that the fisherman had to lift his bagpipe to express his thoughts. 
If he did not convey a message in his sad notes, then why did he compose " Spioc- 
aireachd Iasgaich " ? Could he not just have told his comrades of his grievance 
and been done with it ? If the composer of " Scarce of Fishing " had merely told his 
companions of his complaint and been content with that alone, the loss which he 
sustained would have long since been forgotten. This fine piobaireachd is a record 
of musical thought which will be remembered as long as the " piob mhor " remains 
with us. It has stood through all the ups and downs of past ages as proof, that in 
every piobaireachd there is a story without words, capable of being understood and 
translated by the genuine Celt. 

" S' fada mar so tha sinn," 
"Too long in this Condition." 

This piobaireachd is the composition of Donald Mor MacCrimmon, who com- 
mitted some offence for which he had to fly for refuge into Sutherlandshire, to the 
house of a friend who was getting married. MacCrimmon sat down practically 
unnoticed, but, when the piper began to play, Donald Mor also began to finger upon 

The Construction and Classification of Piobaireachd 79 

his stick as if it were the chanter. The piper at the wedding noticed this, and asked 
the stranger to play for them. Donald said that he could not, but the whole company 
asked him. At last the piper said, " I am getting seven shillings and sixpence for 
playing at the marriage, and I'll give you one-third if you will play." Donald then 
took the pipes and played " S' fada mar so tha sinn." He played so well that all 
present knew him to be the great MacCrimmon, for he made the pipes speak to them. 
They understood the complaint, and Donald Mor was royally entertained. Again, 
this is another of the hundreds of examples of stories of one kind or other being 
told through the Great Highland Bagpipe, and MacCrimmon did not miss his chance. 

" Port a' Strith," 
" The Tune of Strife." 

The composer and date of this tune are unknown. Probably it was composed 
during the time of the series of wars which were carried on for centuries, and ended 
in the rising of 1745. Here the author is giving vent to his thoughts in an appropriate 
Theme. He is telling us what strife means, and perhaps how tired he was of it. 
Some may be inclined to think that this is a peculiar material to use in the creation 
of a new piobaireachd, but it is only natural, as so many other reasons are the means 
of creating musical thought. The Highlanders of old who had an interest in the 
great warpipe prided themselves in adding another page to " Ceol Mor" when occa- 
sion required it. 

" Dusgadh Fear=na=Bainnse," 

" The Waking of the Bridegroom." 

It was customary in the Highlands of Scotland to hold a demonstration of 
some kind or other shortly before, and on the day of the marriage. This piobaireachd 
tells us of how the friends and neighbours wakened the bridegroom from his sleep in 
the early morning of his wedding day. They had some amusement at his expense, 
and the piper relates what took place in this, a very fine tune indeed. 

"Togail bho tir," 

" Weighing from Land." 

As the vessel leaves the shore the last thing that is done is to weigh, or raise the 
anchor, and this Theme represents the motion or swaying of the boat as she sets out 
on her voyage. The composer has illustrated very effectively in a fine piobaireachd, 
the sensation which such an experience creates on the mind of those who rise and 

80 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

fall on the crest of the wave. It is not impossible to imagine that it was during 
the clearances when so many Highlanders had to vacate their homes, that " Togail 
bho tir " was composed. How much did it mean to those unfortunate people when 
by sheer force they had to embark to a foreign land. Then the ties of friendship 
were broken, and in many instances it was the breaking of the last link with the 
land of their fathers who fought and died for " Bonnie Prince Charlie." 

" Nameless Piobaireachd." 

There are nineteen nameless tunes in " Ceol Mor," and some of them have got 
exceptionally fine melodies. It would be very interesting indeed if it were possible 
to find out their titles and the occasions which gave rise to their composition. Many 
good piobaireachdan have been lost altogether through neglect, more especially for 
want of being recorded by their authors. Several pipers claim to possess copies 
of " The Lost Piobaireachd," but while memory lasts there will always be a lost 
piobaireachd, and happy will be the Highlander who sleeps upon the " fairy duns " 
if there he may chance to find it. 

Chapter IV 

FROM the Urlar, which is the Theme, there comes a number of variations that 
still require to be c classified, as well as to be more minutely explained. 
They may be arranged in the following order, viz. : — 

i. Urlar, Ground, or Theme. 

2. Thumb Variation, or Siubhal Ordaig, or Doubling of Urlar. 

3. Fosgailte, Siubhal, or First Variation. 

4. Doubling of Fosgailte, Siubhal, or First Variation. 

5. Leumluath. 

6. Doubling of Leumluath. 

7. Taorluath. 

8. Doubling of Taorluath. 

9. Taorluath-a-mach. 

10. Taorluath Fosgailte. 

11. Doubling of Taorluath Fosgailte. 

12. Taorluath Breabach. 

13. Doubling of Taorluath Breabach. 

14. Crunluath. 

15. Doubling of Crunluath. 

16. Crunluath-a-mach. 

17. Crunluath Fosgailte. 

18. Doubling of Crunluath Fosgailte. 

19. Crunluath Breabach. 

20. Doubling of Cruniuath Breabach. 

1. Urlar. — Every piobaireachd must have an Urlar. It is the Theme, or root 
of the tune, and all variations are derived therefrom. All Urlars are not constructed 


Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

in the same fashion. Some have only four bars, but when played in full there are 
sixteen bars in all. Take, as an instance, 

" Failte Dhuic Athol." 

The four bars illustrated constitute the whole Theme complete. I have numbered 
the bars as follows, viz. : — One, two, three, four. When the Urlar is played in full 
the following numbers account for the sixteen bars, viz. : — One, two, one, two, 
three, four. One, two, three, four, three, four. One, two, three, four. The same 
applies to all the variations. 

Another good example which might be illustrated, and slightly different from 
the tune already dealt with, is 

"The Red=Speckled Bull." 

} m } ffl J > I 

$*mmimm m 


i , BL;l. HI u 




In this piobaireachd six bars constitute the Urlar. The bars are numbered one, 
two, three, four. Five, six, and the sixteen bars when played in full are made up 
as follows : — One, one, one, two, three, four. One, two, three, three, three, four. 
One, two, five, six. The same numbers which represent the different bars in the 
Theme also apply to the variations. 

An Urlar different still from any of the two already given will be found in 


" Failte Phrionsa." 

Piobaireachd Variations 



BbJ -B 

b l fr i tr fl lfV! 

As shown above, there are only six different bars in " The Prince's Salute," but 
when played in full the order of the bars is as follows, viz. : — One, two, one, three. 
One, two, one, three. Four, five, one, three. One, two, six, three. 

In the first two illustrations what applied to the Urlar also held good in the 
variations, but that is not the case in this instance. The bars are played in the 
same order up to the end of the Doubling of the First Variation. Up to this point 
we have sixteen bars, which include the first four played twice in each variation, 
but when we come to the Taorluath we find thirty-two bars in it, and all succeeding 
variations. There are now seven different bars arranged as follows : — One, two, 
three, four, one, two, five, six. One, two, three, four, one, two, five, six. One, 
seven, three, two, one, two, five, six. One, two, three, four, seven, two, five, six. 
At the first glance this seems rather irregular, and what is the cause ? It is because 
the Urlar and the next two variations are written in common time, and the Taorluath 
is written in six-eight time. If the Taorluath and the following variations were 
written in common time, with four movements to the bar, what would be the result ? 
It will be found that this variation would be written correctly and the bars would 
then be in the following order, viz. : — One, two, one, three. One, two, one, three. 
Four, five, one, three. One, two, six, three. There are now sixteen bars, which 
agree with the Urlar, and this proves that the art of piobaireachd is not studied or 
written according to its proper construction. 

Let us take for the next example 

" The Sister's Lament " 

There are sixteen bars in this Urlar altogether, twelve of the bars are entirely 
different, and only four are repeated. To illustrate their order, which is the important 
point, numbers alone will be used as the number of bars are greater here. The order 
of bars is as follows : — One, two, three, four, five, six, three, seven, eight, seven, nine, 
eight, ten, seven, eleven, twelve. The only bars repeated are the third, seventh, 
and eighth, and the seventh bar is repeated twice, or played three times in the Urlar. 
It will be seen that there is no regular place for the repeated bars to come in. Up 
to the end of the sixth bar they are all different in succession ; then bar three is 
repeated ; then other two new bars, taking us up to the end of the ninth bar ; then 

84 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

bar seven is repeated, followed by another new bar, repeating bar eight ; again a 
new bar, which is followed by a repetition of bar seven ; and finally two new bars. 
Another thing which will be noticed in this Urlar is that instead of two or three 
distinct strains with closes to each, there is only one close in the Theme, coming, of 
course, at the end of the sixteenth bar. 

One other Urlar illustration will be sufficient for the purpose intended, which 
is to give several examples of phrasing, or arrangement of bars. Let us now analyse 

" N' ann air mhire tha sibh." 

Of the sixteen bars in this Urlar only five are repeated, and eleven are all dis- 
tinctly different from each other. The second, third, and fourth bars are repeated 
after the fifth, the tenth bar is repeated after the twelfth, and the ninth bar is repeated 
after the fourteenth. In other words, there are sixteen bars in the following order : — 
One, two, three, four, five, two, three, four, six, seven, eight, nine, seven, ten, six, 
eleven. It can be seen in this instance that there is no regular place at which any 
of the bars is repeated, and with the exception of the first four and the second four 
bars which are practically bissed except one bar, none of the closes agree. In fact, 
after the end of the eighth bar the next complete close is at the end of the Urlar. 
This is a MacCrimmon tune, and they were the masters of piobaireachd. Some pipers 
have found fault with the phrasing of the tunes in the " Royal Collection of Piob- 
aireachd," but on examination of those tunes handed down to us we can find various 
forms of Urlars. Although many tunes are very much like " The Atholl Salute " 
and " The Red-Speckled Bull," nevertheless, if we find one alone, such as " The 
Sister's Lament," or " Roderick More MacLeod's Salute," which is the composition 
of the greatest masters of piobaireachd, we are quite entitled to make that form our 
choice. The particular form of phrasing is not tied by rule, therefore it is a matter 
of individual taste. There is far more scope for good melody in a tune where there 
is comparatively little repetition, than there is where the Urlar consists of, say, four 
bars. It must be admitted that repetition of bars or phrases to a certain extent is 
one of the characteristics of piobaireachd, but at the same time a tune with four bars 
in the Urlar is very simple to compose and construct ; whereas a Theme with, say, 
seventy-five per cent of bars that are entirely different, requires much more talent 
and experience in their composition. The most important point in the creation of a 
new Theme is the connection of bars or phrases, with an unbroken flow of melody, 
or the regular recurrence of accent from beginning to end. If one were to play two 
bars of " Mackintosh's Lament," and then strike into the first four bars of " Too Long 

Piobaireachd Variations 


in this Condition," it could be detected in an instant when the change takes place. 
In fact, the first two bars would be in entire rhythmical discord with the succeeding 
four bars of a different tune. 

All Urlars van*. One may resemble another, but their melodies must be 
different ; if not, the one would be a fac simile of the other. Of the hundreds of 
piobaireachdan which we have on record, no two Themes are alike, although their 
variations may be of the same form. 

2. — The Thumb Variation can only be found in certain tunes that will permit its 
introduction. That is to say, it might not be possible in some tunes to have a Thumb 
Variation, because the melody or construction of the Theme will not allow it. A 
good instance of the Siubhal Ordaig will be found in 

" Cha till Mac Cruimein." 


Thumb Variation. 

j«rJVr r % \ } r ^ 

It will be observed from the above illustration that the Thumb Variation is 
constructed by replacing the first F in the first bar by high A, and also the F in the 
second bar. This is one of the piobaireachd which is very much improved by the 
insertion of the Siubhal Ordaig. 

The Doubling of the Urlar is quite a different thing altogether, and a good 
illustration may be found in 

S'fada mar so tha sinn." 



Doubling of Urlar. 

j^^^S^ M 



its Origin and Construction 

The distinction between the Urlar and its Doubling will be observed in the 
second bar of each stave given on page 85. In the first instance we have B A as 
the last half of the second bar of the Urlar, and in the Doubling of the Urlar the last 
half of the second bar is converted into BBBC. Because the word Doubling is 
used it is not meant that the variation is to be played twice as fast as the Urlar, 
but that the variation is all to be played in a movement of the same form or as 
nearly as possible right through. The same explanation will hold good wherever 
a Doubling occurs so far as form and time are concerned. 

3 and 4. — In the Fosgailte, Siubhal, and First Variation there are three distinct 
forms at least, and when the words " First Variation " are used, such a variation 
takes many forms. A good example of the Fosgailte will be found in "Blar Bhaterloo," 
but perhaps the best plan will be to give a full illustration of all the various notes 
off which this variation can be played, viz. : — 

Fosgailte Variation 
J_ B_2_I " 

} } fa } 


Doubling of Fosgailte. 

M M L 

2 I 

± -J 

1 w U W l zJ d cJ ' cJ c ^P 

The principal thing in all variations is to notice their individual construction, 
and the large notes as well as the grace-notes made use of in them. There is one 
particular sign to be observed in the " Fosgailte," i.e., that in the large notes they 
all begin on the low hand. In more correct words, the first note of each couplet is 
the lower of the two, except in the close of some of the bars in the Singling where 
the first note is the highest. The first note is the longest, and most frequently 
low A, although sometimes we find B D, C E, and E F. In the first bar of the Singling 
each Fosgailte couplet has got a high G and D grace-notes ; the second bar has only 
one G grace-note on the first note of each couplet ; and the last bar the same as 
the second except the close. Care should be taken in the case of high A that no 
grace-note can be performed when coming to a lower note. The Doubling is not 
meant to be played faster than the Singling but of the same movement all through, 
and care should also be taken to observe its proper form and the right grace-notes 
to use as shown in the illustration. 

Piobaireachd Variation; 


The title " Siubhal " may be given to any variation which follows the Urlarv 
but as a rule the one generally known as such is that to be found in 

" Thainig mo Righ air tir am Muideart," 

and the following is an illustration of all the various notes off which it can be 
performed : — 


} }}„}*_} J^JJmJ. r 

Doubling of Siubhal. 
J » J I J 

t a } l l m jJ^ 

The first note in each couplet gets most time, and the last is always short. The 
only movement which should be taken particular notice of is the first, which is 
G A. All the movements descend, but this one ascends, with G D grace-notes. 
A to D have G E grace-notes, E and F have two G grace-notes each, high G has two 
high A grace-notes, and high A has no grace-notes at all. The Doubling is played 
at the same rate of speed as the Singling, and it is known by all the notes being 
doubled except low G, which is G A. The grace-notes used here in the first move- 
ment are the same as in the Singling, and also A to D, but E is different. The 
first E has a G grace-note and the second E has an F* grace-note. This was John 
Ban MacKenzie's style, who was a pupil of the MacCrimmon school. It sounds 
much better than two G grace-notes. High G has the same grace-notes as in the 
Singling, but there are no graces on the last two high A's, according to the old 
masters, although we see a high G grace-note inserted between the two high A's 
in some printed books and MSS. It seems an impossibility to some pipers to say 
that there should be no grace-note between two high A's in the Doubling of this 
variation, but the two notes are cut, or separated by the regulation of the wind 
pressure on the reed instead of using grace-notes, and gives a more piobaireachd-like 
expression to the movement than using a grace-note as in an ordinary March. In 
fact, it is a weird movement, and a special characteristic of piobaireachd. 


Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

Variation First is the last in this series for analysis, and a good specimen will 
be found in 

" Failte au Ridire Seumas tnhic Dhomhnuill nan Eilean." 

Variation First. 

} t } f L2—1-IjlJ-J—J-J—JJ-JL 

Dpubling of Variation First. 
} } J } ,LLJ 


} f t O J} 

}} } 



When the title " Variation First " is used it may not be out of place to call it 
a miscellaneous form of variation ; one that generally varies in construction, and 
not of a fixed species like the two already described. In the Singling, the most 
important things to notice are the grace-notes. The bars are divided into four 
crotchet beats, and the notes following the D and B in the first bar have E grace- 
notes ; the note following the E in the second bar has a G grace-note ; and the 
B G B in the same bar have a G E D grace-note alternately. The third bar is the 
same as the first, and the first beat of the last bar is changed from a single crotchet 
beat to a couplet. The D is a full crotchet, because it gives more effect to the little 
finger movement which it precedes. The first two notes of the last bar have the 
same grace-notes as the same two in the second bar. 

The Doubling is a fac simile of the Singling up to the fourth bar, and then the 
E takes the same time as the first note in each bar. The second beat is a couplet, 
and this is because it produces a melody which is in better harmony with the move- 
ment that follows it. Finally the little finger movement is transformed into a group 
of notes of the Taorluath Breabach form, with the usual notes used in that movement. 

5 and 6. — The Leumluath and its Doubling are distinct variations by them- 
selves, and an example of them will be found in 

" Piobaireachd Dhomhnuill Duibh." 

} m fcs } a fa Lm-2 - m A-p— fa. 


Doubling of Leumluath. 

I m I m I 

I m f m LmJ 

J m J] i no 'MMSct 

Piobaireachd Variations 


This variation is usually written in six-eight time. The first note in each 
group may vary, as it generally does, but it always finishes on E. High G is always 
the grace-note used on the initial note of the movement, and a low G D G grace- 
note group between the initial note and A coming up to finish on E. The last half 
of three of the bars in the Singling takes the same form as the Theme. This is the 
distinction between Singling and Doubling, and generally the second part of special 
bars takes the same form as the Urlar in the Singling. The Doubling is entirely 
of the one movement, and the Themal portion of the bars in the Singling is con- 
verted into the Leumluath movement right through the whole of the Doubling. 
The grace-notes in each group are the same in the Doubling as the Singling, viz., 
high G on the first note, and a low G D G grace-note group between the initial note 
and A. In all Leumluath Variations the first note in each movement gets most 
time, or emphasis. 

7, 8, and 9. — The Taorluath, its Doubling, and the Taorluath-a-mach, which 
is sometimes given as the Trebling, have all got a fixed form, and an illustration of 
them will be seen in many tunes. 

A good example will be found in the second part or strain of 

" Failte Thighearna Lobhait." 



I _ . t _ 


&& M £* & U3J JM J^ 

te \ ' 'si ' 'er^" fg 



The Taorluath movement can be played off every note on the chanter. It is 
nearly always written in six-eight time, but if studied properly it can be seen that 
by writing it as illustrated above, there would be many difficulties avoided, and 
piobaireachd would be made much clearer, and more perfect in form. There are 
three prominent notes in each movement, the first note will vary, but the last two 

90 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

notes are always the same except off the D. All the notes except D are terminated 
with two A's, and where the movement occurs on D it is D B A. Sometimes, how- 
ever, it is written D A A, and perhaps this is the better of the two, but it can be 
written either way. The first note of each movement has a G grace-note on it, and 
in the case of the movement occurring on high G, then the grace-note is high A. 
Then a group of three grace-notes G D G comes in between the initial note and the 
second one, and finishes with an E grace-note on the last A. The second movement 
in the second bar is somewhat different. Instead of the group of grace-notes G D G, 
only G D is necessary, and the close is the same as on A. Where the initial note 
in the movement is low G 

* £=J= 

then the G D E grace-notes are used. The Doubling is all of the Taorluath move- 
ment right through the variation, and the only changes are the last groups in the 
first and second bars where DBA takes the place of D A, and the Taorluath 
movement on A takes the place of the little finger movement. The grace-notes 
required in the D movement are G on D, low G between D and B, and low G and 
E grace-notes between B and A. If the D movement is written 

L m L 



then the only change from the usual form of writing this group is that G B G 
grace-notes require to be used instead of G D G already mentioned. 

In the Singling and Doubling the first note in each movement gets the most 
time, the others only get sufficient time to play them clearly and distinctly. 

The Taorluath-a-mach is the last in this series, and it is only found on B C and 
D. Although one would think that low A was also a-mach, still that is not the case, 
because it is found in the Singling and Doubling of the Taorluath. The accent is 
reversed as will be observed in the much ; instead of the first note the last gets the 
emphasis, and instead of B A A, C A A and D B A, it is now C C C, B B B, and 
B D D. All the grace-notes in the movements are the same except on D, and it 
will be observed that the change is to G D C grace-notes instead of G D G. This 
variation requires a great deal of practice, especially the change of accent from 

Piobaireachd Variations 


the first note in the Taorluath to the last note in the Taorluath-a-mach, when both 
movements occur in the same variation. 

10 and 11. — The Taorluath Fosgailte and its Doubling are both an open move- 
ment, and an illustration will be found in 

" Cruinneachadh Chlann Raonuill." 

Taorluath Fosgailte. 

m n*i mm 

Doubling of Taorluath Fosgailte. 

jjjj J ;J; , *}}} U£==AmMM Jm UM 


The Taorluath Fosgailte is a fixed form of variation. It always begins on the 
low hand and rises to higher notes. It is quite the reverse of the plain Taorluath, 
which begin on higher notes and come down to the low hand. On notes from B to 
C, the grace-notes, as will be observed in the first movement in the illustration, 
are G D E D. From D right up to high A the grace-notes are only G D E, and 
the last note in the group has no grace-note. There is no such movement in the 
Taorluath Fosgailte as 


and when 

m j Jm m m 

occurs it is of the Taorluath Breabach movement even when it appears in a 
Taorluath Fosgailte variation. No such movement as 

will be found in any piobaireachd. The last half of the second and fourth bars 


Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

in the first stave follows the Theme, to form the Singling. The Doubling is 
formed by converting the B D in the second, and D E in the fourth bar into 
G G G D, and A A A E. The usual grace-notes are used in the Doubling. 
Several piobaireachdan have a variation of the Taorluath Fosgailte form followed 
by a plain Taorluath. This is because sometimes special Urlars afford the oppor- 
tunity of constructing a tune with both variations producing a very fine effect, 
but, as a rule, one form of Taorluath is enough. The first three notes of each 
group in the Taorluath Fosgailte movement are played as fast as it is possible to 
perform them distinctly, and the fourth note is always long. 

12 and 13. — The Taorluath Breabach and its Doubling form a variation of a 
fixed nature, and an example will be found in the last four bars of the Singling and 
Doubling of 

" Cumha Craobh nan teud." 

Taorluath Breabach 


«^h| ~-^fr ~ I r^fl* =p V Bg = SgBg^S H 


Doubling of Taorluath Breabach 







mm md mm 



In a piobaireachd where a Taorluath Breabach is found, no other form of Taor- 
luath must be inserted. The Taorluath Breabach is really an extra note added to 
the plain Taorluath. Although very often the movement starts and finishes on the 
same note, this is not always the case. The rule followed in the construction of 
this variation is according to the Urlar, and the notes in the Theme should be found 
if possible in the variations. When the movement finishes on A B or C, a D grace- 
note is always placed on each, as the case may be. If any note from D to high 
A (both inclusive) closes the movement, no grace-note is found on any of them. 
The second and fourth bars close in accordance with the Urlar to distinguish the 
Singling from the Doubling. In the Doubling the only difference is the change of 
the last half of the second and fourth bars into the Breabach movement right through 
the whole variation. Care should always be taken to observe when writing this 
variation that where the movement finishes on high A no grace-notes shou'd follow 

Piobaireachd Variations 


it. There is nothing peculiar in those variations as regards grace-notes, because, with 
the exception of the last note in the group, they are all found in the plain Taorluath 
already described. These variations are often written in common time, but it is a 
mistake to do so, because four beats cannot be found in a bar of two movements. 
Six-eight time is undoubtedly the best method of writing the Taorluath Breabach. 
14, 15, and 16. — The Crunluath, its Doubling, and a-mach are of a fixed form. 
An example of them can be seen in the tune we have already dealt with for 
numbers 7, 8, and 9, viz. : — 

" Failte Thighearna Lobhait." 








m_ } 

■• — m m- 

5 I, 

Doubling of Crunluath. 





ggg r^dj r ra [ij ' 



{ m,ll ' r ^Plim, H ,'f i i, a 






K-m. m. Km. PL J. 

ra^ |M f -PPg^ 


94 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

The Crunluath, its Doubling, and a-mach are variations which can all be found 
in the same piobaireachd. They are often given as Crunluath, its Doubling, and 
Trebling, but they are all played at the same speed. The one should not be played 
faster than the other. In fact, if one were to play the Doubling as fast again as 
the Singling, it would be rather indistinct and difficult, and to attempt to play the 
mach or Trebling three times as fast would be an utter impossibility. The Crun- 
luath is a beautiful variation, and one requires continual practice to become a good 
performer. Sometimes it takes years for pipers to get into it, but of course a great 
deal depends upon the pupil himself and how much he practices. 

The Crunluath or Singling is distinguished by the long Themal notes at the end 
of the first and second bars in the illustration. The Doubling is all of one form of 
movement throughout, because the Themal notes are converted into the same form 
as the groups which precede and follow them. There are various ways of writing 
this variation, but as already described in numbers 7, 8, and 9, by writing it in com- 
mon time, piobaireachd is simplified and greatly improved. The grace-notes vary 
in accordance with the method of writing the movement. To write this movement 
exactly as it is played it would have to be timed as 


a .. p g — p 

because from the time one begins to play the first note C till the last note E is reached, 
every note must be accounted for in the time. Thus one movement would have 
to be written in two-four time. If this were carried out many difficulties would 
arise. The recording of tunes would be long and laborious, and to write it as illus- 
trated, the single movement would require two beats, whereas only one beat can 
be given to each group. For this reason it is necessary to abbreviate the move- 
ment by giving certain prominent notes as large notes, and the rest in the group 
as grace-notes. When both methods illustrated are performed on the chanter 
their renderings are the same. If an Urlar is written in common time there is no 
need to change the time in the plain Crunluath to twelve-eight, because it can be 
written in common time with four movements to the bar as shown in the example. 
The most particular grace-notes to observe are those used in the fourth movement 
in the first bar of the Doubling. After D the grace-notes are G B G A instead of 

Piobaireachd Variations 


G D G A. In the second movement of the second bar the grace-notes used after 
the E are G F G instead of A F A, because before the E there are only three notes. 
G D G instead of G D G A, and in the Taorluath B G G will be found as large notes, 
The Crunluath-a-mach, as in the Taorluath-a-mach, can only be performed on B 
C and D, and care should be taken to see that the form adopted in this movement 
occurs on these notes. There is no Mach movement on low A because it is found 
in the Singling and Doubling. As will be observed when writing the Mach on B, 
instead of B E E it is B B E, and the grace-notes used before the E are E B F B. 
On C the same happens also. C E E is replaced by CCE in the Mach, with E C F C 
grace-notes occurring before the E. When writing the Mach on D it is B D E, with 
a throw, or G D C group of grace-notes on the D, and E D F D grace-notes before 
the E. All the initial notes in each movement in the Crunluath, its Doubling, and 
a-mach get most time value, except the B C and D movements in the Mach ; and 
the last note in each of those three groups gets the most time. Each group of 
notes in variations numbers 14, 15, and 16 is written in the time value of a crotchet. 
This permits the time of the Urlar being carried to the end of a tune when its melody 
and construction will allow such a course to be taken. 

Some doubt exists regarding the best method of writing the Crunluath-a-mach 
movement. The following are some examples : — 

L^lT'l 1 1 V| f | ijj^l llRjJ fa 

^ifn'H 1 T1 lk4M 



Nos. 1 and 2 are Donald MacDonald's style. Nos. 3 and 4 are Angus MacKay's, 
D. MacPhee's, and Wm. Ross's. Nos. 5 and 6 are examples to be found in "The 
Piobaireachd Society's Collection," parts 2 and 5. There is a very little time for a 
long accent on the second B and C, or D in the Mach movement, and perhaps Nos. 
7 and 8 are the best method of writing it. The last note in the Mach movement (E) 
must get a long accent ; otherwise, if followed by another Mach movement, the short 
note is not so effective. 


Piobaireachd : its 


and Construction 

17 and 18. — The Crunluath Fosgailte and its Doubling are variations of a fixed 
form. Movements on E F and G, high A and low A are all written and performed 
in the usual Crunluath method. There is a movement on low G and A such as 

J-^M r 

which is the Fosgailte form, but this is really a movement on low G, because it is 
the initial note and gets most time value. A good example of this variation will 
be found in 

Crunluath Fosgailte. 

j_eJBLJb_J3 ^ 

Doubling of Crunluath Fosgailte 

J 1 H Ia H I H I 

The Crunluath Fosgailte is an open movement, and the last part of it can be 
written and performed in either way, open or closed, as shown in the Singling and 
Doubling above. Some doubt exists as to the close of this movement, because the 
top stave is of the Crunluath-a-mach style. Both sound very well, all the same, and it 
is a matter of taste. It is certainly written in some very old collections of piobaireachd 
in the first form, but it is very often met with in old MSS. in the second form as 
illustrated here. On all movements up to C, the initial and second note have a 
grace-note each, which is high G and D alternately. On D only the initial note 
gets a grace-note ; D is plain. The grace-notes used in the last portion of the 
movement have already been met with and described in previous variations. The 
only change in the Doubling is where B G is changed into the Fosgailte movement 
G B E, with the usual grace-notes thereon. 

Piobaireachd Variations 


19 and 20. — The last, longest, and most difficult passage in piobaireachd is 
the Crunluath Breabach Variation. If it were written in full, giving every note time 
value except the G grace-note, it would appear thus 



which would be far too complicated and laborious a method of writing each move- 
ment. An example will be found in 

" Iseabel Nic Aoidh." 

Crunluath Breabach. 







Doubling of Crunluath Breabach. 

I is |jji^a§^gj§|^|fe 

This variation is written to best advantage in six-eight time. It is often written 
in common time, but there are only two beats to the bar of two movements, and it 
is impossible to get four beats in a bar when each movement represents a dotted 
crotchet beat. There is very little explanation required in this variation, as the 
movements have already been described, with the exception of the last two notes 
in each group. When the last note occurs on G A B or C there is a D grace-note 
on each, as the case may be, but from D to high A, should these happen to be the 
last note, there is no grace-note on D E F G or A. In the Doubling the little 
finger movement and D beat are both changed into the Breabach movement with 
the usual grace-notes. Care should be taken when learning to perform, and when 
practising this variation, that no grace-note is used on the A preceding the last note 
in each movement. When performed clearly and distinctly, this is the finest of all 
movements in piobaireachd. Before closing, it may be well to mention that there are 
several other forms of Crunluath Variations worthy of special study, such as are found 
in " Failte Dhuic Atholl," " Crosdachd an Duill," and " S' fada mar so tha sinn." 


Chapter V 


THE Urlar or Theme is the root of the tune, and from it comes the original sound. 
In the various species of piobaireachd to be found in " Ceol Mor " this sound is 
doubled, trebled, quadrupled, quintupled, and even septupled. Take as an 
example a tune, the Urlar of which begins with an E of the value of a crotchet. 
Thus, E is the original sound, and in various tunes it can be echoed as often as six 
times, making in all a seven-syllabled movement with the original sound. A piob- 
aireachd is not to be found with variations to represent, two, three, four, five, and 
seven-syllabled movements, but nevertheless such variations are to be found in var- 
ious tunes within the realms of " Ceol Mor." The Gathering may be said to contain 
the most syllables or echoes. In " Craigellachie " the first crotchet in the first bar 
of the Theme is C. It is echoed as often as four times in the course of the varia- 
tions. That is to say, C is the original sound, and it is doubled, trebled, quadrupled, 
and quintupled all in the same tune. The four echoes and the original sound 
finish up in a five-syllabled movement. Going back to the first-mentioned example, 
let us deal with the syllabic sounds on the E, and classify them according to their 
running numbers as they are found in various piobaireachdan, viz. : — 

i. E. Original-sound — Urlar. One-syllabled movement. 

2. E A. Original sound, and one echo — Siubhal or Variation First. Two- 

syllabled movement. 

3. E A A. Original sound and two echoes — Taorluath. Three-syllabled 


4. A A A E, and E A A E. Original sound and three echoes — Taorluath 

Fosgailte, and Taorluath Breabach. Four- syllabled movements. 

5. E A E F E. Original sound and four echoes — Crunluath. Five-syllabled 


6. Nil. 

7. E A E F E A E. Original sound and six echoes — Crunluath Breabach. 

Seven-syllabled movement. 

Analysis of Syllabic Sounds or Echoes in Piobaireachd 99 

1. E. The original sound might have been taken from the bay of the hound 
in pursuit of the stag in the mountain forest, or, as in " Duntroon's Warning," it 
might have been taken from the lashing of the waves against the seashore. The 
bark of the shepherd's dog, as he winds his way in a circular route in the corry to 
bring back the wandering sheep, produced a weird effect in the mind of the shepherd, 
who beguiled the time by playing on his pipe in the lonely Highland districts. The 
cry of the owl from her secret bower in the dim and misty moonlight, rang through 
the lofty woodland with a low quivering sound. Those events which happened in 
everyday life supplied the Highlander with Themes and variations for " Ceol Mor." 
Other sounds that have suggested notes in Themes, as already described, were the 
ringing of the church bells, the clang of steel in battle, the moaning sound of the 
wind sighing in the green dell where the Highland Chieftain lies sleeping his last sleep 
in the silent tomb beside the dimpling stream. Many more examples may be illus- 
trated as fitting material to form Themes in the mind of the composer whose residence 
is in the humble shieling on the heath-clad moorland of Caledonia, the home of 

2. E A. The Siubhal, or First Variation, that is the variation nearest in 
rotation to the Urlar, or Thumb Variation, where the first sound has one echo. The 
original bay of the hound and one echo might have formed the suggestion of a two- 
syllabled movement. 

3. E A A. The Taorluath, sometimes the second, third, or fourth variation 
in piobaireachd. The sound of the waves dashing against the rocks on the seashore, 
or the peals of the church bell in the distance, might have originated the idea of this 
variation in the composer's mind. The noise of the waves, for instance, is the 
original sound, and the caves in the neighbouring rocks throw back a double echo, 
which is suggestive of a three-syllabled movement. 

4. A A A E, and E A A E. The Taorluath Fosgailte and Taorluath Breabach, 
which may also be the second, third, or fourth variation in piobaireachd, and might 
have been developed in the composer's mind by the trampling of the horses' hoof 
in the hour of battle, or the reports of the enemy's fire-arms. The first volley being 
the original sound, and as it travels down the valley it is echoed back three times 
by various means, which represent a four-syllabled movement. 

5. E A E F E. The Crunluath, which may be a third, fourth, or fifth 
variation, might have been derived from the quivering cry of the owl. When the 
night has fallen the owl gives a long, low cry, which might have formed the first 
sound ; it then finishes with the sound of the first cry being echoed three or four 

ioo Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

times, and it is not impossible to imagine that this was suggestive of a five-syllabled 

6. There is no movement in piobaireachd variations with six syllables. This 
seems strange, but it is more in keeping with nature. Perhaps if we had a movement 
of six syllables in piobaireachd it would be more like creating an art void of natural 
feeling, and too like the even revolution of the jarring wheels of machinery. 

7. E A E F E A E. The Crunluath Breabach is the longest and quickest of 
all movements in piobaireachd. Its Doubling is the last variation in tunes so 
constructed. This specimen of variation might have been derived from the beat 
of the Highlanders foot in the dungeon of the castle, the walls of which threw back 
to his ear a six-fold echo. Thus he could have got the original sound and six echoes 
making a seven-syllabled movement. 

All these illustrations go a long way to prove that the genuine Celt had within 
his reach, in his own native country, quite sufficient material with which he could 
create and construct his " Ceol Mor." In doing so, the Highlanders of old built up a 
musical stronghold in ancient piobaireachd that cannot be pulled down. Its walls 
will never decay, and its charms will not diminish during the revolution of the 
wheels of time. Piobaireachd is the noblest and grandest music in the ear of the 
Highlander, and ever shall be because it is peculiar to him alone. 

Chapter VI 

TO deal with the latter first, in the olden days when the Boreraig College was 
at its best, piobaireachd was a profession pure and simple. The MacCrimmons 
were hereditary pipers to MacLeod of MacLeod, Dunvegan Castle, Skye, 
and one generation followed the other. They did nothing else, and no wonder their 
productions were unparalleled, because they devoted their whole life to this art. 
They had a farm rent free, which now maintains some eight families, who each pay 
a considerable rent. This was the means of making that war-like race comfortable 
and happy. They held a respected position in the establishment of their master, 
and their duties were performed in more of a gentlemanly manner than the ordinary 
servant. Nowadays piobaireachd must be a labour of love. The student, the 
performer, or the professor must qualify himself at his own expense, and in his 
leisure hours, with little to guide him in theory or construction. Therefore much 
lies with the individual himself, and a great many difficulties arise which tend to 
dishearten him, so that only those who have a real love for piobaireachd follow it 
down to the very root. Let me give here a short description of my own experience. 

I was taught to play the Highland Bagpipe by Pipe-Major Ronald MacKenzie, 
piper to His Grace the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, and became a member of the 
3rd V.B. Seaforth Highlanders pipe band. I walked over twenty miles twice a week 
for my lessons for about three years, through sunshine and storm. I often arrived 
home at midnight drenched with rain, and many a walk I have had to Gordon Castle 
in the midst of a blinding storm. 

After several years of practice I began in earnest to study piobaireachd in 
minute detail, and from the MSS. of several kind friends I got sufficient material 
to work upon. I have often retired to rest with a heavy heart after a long day of 
office work, and several hours a night spent in the study of piobaireachd at the 
same time. Long before I started the present work I made a vow to myself on 
several occasions that I would give it up altogether, but somehow or other the love 
of piobaireachd has haunted me like a passion, and I must fulfil my heart's desire. 

102 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

When the autumn came, in my short vacation, I stood with my feet upon my native 
heath, facing the radiant orb that fills the world with sunshine and lightens our 
burdens by its brightness. As I turned my eyes to the left and gazed upon Ben 
Rinnes, that towering mountain peak, my heart was aglow with lofty ideas and 
high ambitions. Turning to the right I saw " Craigellachie," the " Rock of Alarm " 
gleaming purple in the autumn sunshine. Then I remembered its meaning, and 
my right hand was filled with the sword of perseverance, for ,; Craigellachie ' ' told me 
to " stand firm " and bid adieu to grovelling materialism ; it can never quench 
my aspirations or render obscure my remembrance of the days departed. The 
spirits of the mist and the mountains have awakened me to better things, and 
indicate to my heart that I must not be untrue to myself nor forget my paternal 
heritage, but let this classical music sound with sweetness in the ears of a Celtic 
people to whom it belongs. 


The great music. Why is it a great music ? Is it mere fancy alone that makes 
piobaireachd great ? No ! It is because it expresses in harmony the romance, 
the renown, the glory, the tragedy, the joys and sorrows, the memories, and hopes 
of our beloved forefathers. There is no other music in the known world so ingen- 
iously invented and constructed. The love song, the battle song, and the song of 
lamentation all possess a common feature. They can be read and understood by 
all, whereas " Ceol Mor " can only be appreciated and translated by the genuine High- 
lander when he hears it performed upon the Great Highland Bagpipe. This great 
music rejoices with those who rejoice ; it mourns with those who mourn ; it gathers 
the brawny clansmen to battle ; and it lulls them to sleep while they close their 
eyes in death. 

Chapter VII 


FIRST of all let us begin at the foundation, and define roughly what music itself 
is. Bagpipe music being instrumental, is produced by the vibrations of 
the column of air passing from the mouth into the bag and thence to the 
reeds in the drones and chanter. Music may still further be described as a series 
of sounds, not only pleasing to the ear, but the most powerful means of moving the 
heart and exciting the feelings. 

In writing musical sounds three things are essential, and made use of, viz. : 

i. Signs. — To represent notes. 

2. Notes. — To express duration. 

3. The staff, or stave and clef. — To express pitch. 

The signs which make the relative duration of musical sounds clear to the eye 
are called notes, varying in shape as follows : — 

1. o Semibreve, or whole note.* 

2. P Minim, or half note. 

3. I* Crotchet, or quarter note. 

4. • Quaver, or eighth note. 

5. 6 Semiquaver, or sixteenth note. 

6. fe Demisemiquaver, or thirty-second note. 

7. £ Semidemisemiquaver, or sixty-fourth note. 

Each of the above notes in their order, is half the value or duration of the. 
preceding note. 

* A note double the value of the Semibreve is really first of the sequence. It is called a Breve, but as 
it is only used r.ow in music of the nature of organ music and plain song, it is of no interest to the student 
of Bagpipe music. 


Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

The first and seventh notes are not used in bagpipe music, but as will be seen 
from the following diagram, all the notes, except the semidemisemiquaver, are 
required for the purpose of arriving at time signatures and the dividing up of 
musical compositions into bars, or measures. 

A Semibreve 
Is equal to 

2 Minims, 
4 Crotchets, 
8 Quavers, 
16 Semi-quavers, 

32 D-S-Quavers 






g g g g ; 

■ a. 

■ t 

■W g g P g g £^ g 



The duration of notes can be lengthened by the use of one or two dots as 
follows : — 

p '= p + (• Total value, three crotchets. One dot after a note increases 
its value by one half. 

o •• = p> + » + m Total value, se\-en quavers. Two dots after a 
note increases its value by three quarters. 

Care must be taken to observe that the second dot only adds one half of the 
value of the first dot, and is equal in value to one quarter of the note that it is 
intended to lengthen. The first dot is equal in value to one half of the note pre- 
ceding it, and both dots increase the value of the minim by three quarters. 

Rudiments of Music Applicable to the Highland Bagpipe 105 


The first seven letters of the alphabet are used to express the names of notes. 

The relative pitch of notes is expressed by the staff or stave. It is a ladder, 
or set of eleven parallel lines with spaces intervening, and which is known as the 
" Great Stave." 



The higher the position of the notes on this staff, or stave, the higher or 
more acute their pitch will be ; and the lower their position, the lower or graver 
their pitch will be, as shown below : — 

C D E F 

Treble / 







Tr^ 1 





Compass of the 
Bagpipe Chanter. 

A stave of eleven lines as shown above, would not only be found inconvenient 
but confusing. Therefore signs called clefs 

G Clef 

and F Clef 

are used to locate the actual position of the sounds or notes and divide the stave 
into two sets of five lines, the centre line representing middle C being omitted, unless 
the note is required, in which case the line is shortened as follows : — -. e 

Middle C is, of course, not included in the Bagpipe scale. 

The G or Treble Clef is placed on the second of the five parallel lines which 
appear above middle C counting from the bottom. This clef gives the note on that 
line its name — G. 

The F, or Bass Clef, is placed on the fourth of the five parallel lines below 
middle C, counting from the bottom. This clef gives the note on that line its 
name — F. 

io6 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

As will be seen from the drawing, the compass of the bagpipe chanter is 
limited to the treble stave and G Clef, and we must confine our attention to it 

The grace -notes used in bagpipe music are as under :— 

^ G A B C D E F G A 


There are two kinds of scales made use of, the diatonic and chromatic. The 
diatonic is chiefly a succession of tones, and chromatic is purely a succession of 
semitones. In the diatonic scale there are two modes, the major and minor. Eight 
degrees form a complete diatonic scale, made up of five tones and two semitones. 
The semitones are in the major mode between the third and fourth and seventh 
and eighth degrees. Although a scale consists of eight degrees, there are only seven 
names — A B C D E F G. The name of the eighth degree is A, the same as the first. 

The bagpipe chanter is limited to a range of nine notes in all, which are 
GABCDEFGA. The scale of the bagpipe is diatonic, because it consists chiefly 
of tones, and confined to the scale of A major. The scale of A major requires 
three sharps, viz., C F and G. A sharp means raising the note a semitone. The 
keyboard of the pianoforte is constructed to allow the performer to make 
use of sharps and flats, but no sharps or flats are used in pipe music, because 
the bagpipe has a fixed scale. The explanation regarding the three sharps 
in the scale of A major is, that when the bagpipe chanter is made, the C F 
and high G are all raised half a tone. In the case of performers on the pianoforte, 
they raise the C F and high G in the scale of A major by means of additional keys 
for that purpose. Whereas the C F and high G are all raised a semitone each when 
the manufacturer makes the chanter, which fixes the scale, so far as the full octave 
is concerned, at five tones and two semitones. There is a full tone between A and 
B, B and C, D and E, E and F, and F and G, and a semitone between C and D and 
G and A. In many printed books one will find the bagpipe chanter scale given as 
being low G to high A, but this is a great mistake. Low G to high A is the compass 
of the practice, or bagpipe chanter, and the bagpipe chanter scale is A to A. There- 
fore, strictly speaking, the bagpipe chanter scale is limited to a range of one complete 

Rudiments of Music Applicable to the Highland Bagpipe 107 

octave, i.e., low A to high A, and a full tone more can be produced. The low G 
is a full tone below the low A, which is incorrect according to the scale of A major, 
A major has two semitones, one between C and D, and another between high G 
and high A. To be in strict keeping with the scale of A major, there should only be 
a semitone between low G and low A. What follows is, that if the nine notes of 
the bagpipe chanter were played upon the piano, the low G would be a semitone out 
of tune. If low G is played on the practice chanter and on the piano at the same 
time, then G on the chanter would be a semitone lower than the G on the piano. 
It is necessary to illustrate the transposition of the semitones from their natural 
position in A minor to A major by means of the following diagram : — 





As will be seen, the semitones occur between B and C and E and F in A minor. 






[upper Tetracf. 

r r r r 



By giving effect to the three sharps, the notes C F and high G are raised a 
semitone each, which transposes the semitones between B and C and E and F to 
occur between C and D and G and A in A major. In both illustrations the semi- 
tones occur between the notes joined by a curve. As already indicated, the scale 
of the bagpipe chanter is fixed and will not admit of transposition. This being so, 
no key signatures are required in bagpipe music. 

There are two tetrachords in the scale of A major, as will be seen in the above 
illustration. A tetrachord is four notes occurring in alphabetical order, one after 
the other. In the lower tetrachord of the bagpipe chanter scale we have tone, 
tone, semitone, and in the upper tetrachord we also have tone, tone, semitone. 


When commencing to speak of " Time," it should be mentioned that one cannot 
listen to a series of sounds without grouping them in one's own mind. The natural 
outcome of this is that in music some sounds are louder than others. Usually the 

108 Piobaircachd : its Origin and Construction 

loud sounds come at regular intervals, and to show this the music is divided into 
regular measures or bars to indicate that the loud sounds or accents occur on the 
first beat of the bar. The bar lines always occur before the loud beat. 

In piobaireachd one kind of time is always maintained throughout the variation, 
and in some instances through the entire tune. Marches, Strathspeys, Reels, Jigs, and 
Hornpipes are always written in the same time from the beginning to the end of the 
whole tune. Therefore, it is necessary to indicate at the beginning of the tune, 
and in the case of piobaireachd, where a change takes place in the variations, the 
particular time in which the tune or its variations are written. For this purpose 
signs are used, called time signatures, consisting of two figures, one above the other, 
or what is better known as an upper and lower figure as follows : — 




The upper figure indicates the number of divisions contained in a bar, and the 
lower figure specifies their quality or value. 

The semibreve is taken as the standard from which all other notes are reckoned, 
and in order to show, or make clear to the eye the value of the beats or divisions in 
a bar of music, whether minims, crotchets, quavers, or semiquavers, and so on, the 
lower figure is always an aliquot part of a semibreve, or standard note. 

Time signatures are divided into two classes, viz., Simple and Compound. 
When each beat in a bar is divisible by two, the time is called Simple. That is to 
say, when a beat can be represented by two of the notes next smaller in value. 
Hence we have Simple Duple Time, Simple Triple Time, and Simple Quadruple 
Time, illustrated thus : — 

Simple / §=two minim beats in a bar, or two halves of a semibreve. 

Duple <| =two crotchet beats in a bar, or two quarters of a semibreve. 

Time. ( § =two quaver beats in a bar, or two eighths of a semibreve. 

Simple / § = three minim beats in a bar. 

Triple <|=three crotchet beats in a bar. 

Time. ' §= three quaver beats in a bar. 

Simple / i =four minim beats in a bar. 

Quadruple < * =four crotchet beats in a bar. 
Time. ( -| =four quaver beats in a bar. 

Sometimes the nature of a piece of music requires each beat of a bar to be divisible 
by three, or represented by triplets, three notes next smaller in value. 

Rudiments of Music Applicable to the Highland Bagpipe 109 

To save marking the triplets throughout a whole composition of this kind, a 
new time signature is used, in which the lower figure signifies the quality of each 
note in the triplet, as an aliquot part of a semibreve. 

When the beats of a bar are dotted, then the time is Compound. Therefore we 
have Compound Duple Time, Compound Triple Time, and Compound Quadruple 
Time, illustrated as follows : — 

Compound i £ =two dotted minim beats in a bar. 
Duple M=two dotted crotchet beats in a bar. 

Time. ( ~ =two dotted quaver beats in a bar. 

Compound i | = three dotted minim beats in a bar. 
Triple <|=three dotted crotchet beats in a bar. 

Time. ( T \=three dotted quaver beats in a bar. 

Compound r - 1 / =four dotted minim beats in a bar. 
Quadruple <- 1 s M=four dotted crotchet beats in a bar. 

Time. ( yf =four dotted quaver beats in a bar. 

Of the various time signatures already described, only six are made use of in 
bagpipe music, three in Simple Time, and three in Compound Time, viz. : — j Simple 
Duple Time, f Simple Triple Time, and * Simple Quadruple Time ; § Compound 
Duple Time, § Compound Triple Time, and ~- Compound Quadruple Time. 

In order that time signatures may be made quite clear, a little further explanation 
is necessary. In |, f, and |, which is Simple Time, the upper figure indicates the 
number of beats in a bar. In f, f, and \ 2 - being Compound Time, the upper figure 
does not represent the number of beats in a bar. The resemblance between Simple 
Time and Compound Time is that f and f have each two beats in a bar. The actual 
difference between the two is that a piece of music is said to be written in | time 
because there are two crotchet beats in each bar. The figure four tells what part 
of a semibreve or whole note a crotchet is, being one quarter. A piece of music 
is said to be written in § time because there are two dotted crotchet beats in each 
bar, equal in value to six quavers, and the figure eight tells what proportion of a 
semibreve a quaver is— one eighth. 

The resemblance between f and § time is that they have each three beats in a 
bar. They differ because f time has got three crotchet beats in a bar, and § has 
three dotted crotchet beats in a bar. In f , three is because there are three crotchet 
beats in each bar, and four because it tells what proportion of a semibreve a crotchet 



its Origin and Construction 

is — one fourth. In § time there are three dotted crotchet beats, or nine quavers 
to the bar, and eight tells what proportion of a semibreve a quaver is — one eighth. 

| and - 1 / time are alike as regards the number of beats in a bar, namely, four 
each. Otherwise they differ, because j time has got four crotchet beats to the 
bar, and V 2 time has four dotted crotchet beats in each bar. In * time the upper 
four indicates the number of beats in each bar, and the lower four indicates what 
part of a semibreve a crotchet is — one fourth. - 1 /- has twelve quavers to each bar, 
and eight, because a quaver is an eighth part of a semibreve. 

Let us now see how the various time signatures stand in reality. Because f 
and | time resemble each other as regards beats, yet in construction and accent 
they are quite different ; therefore they must not be looked upon as both being 
alike in every respect. But, on the other hand, by reason of explanations already 
given, they are entirely different. The same applies to f and |, and J and " time. 
The one must not be confused with the other. 

By the use of time signatures music can be measured or marked off into equal 
or recognised parts according to a given time-signature. Thus, perpendicular lines 

are drawn across the stave to indicate the end of a bar or measure. What is termed 
a bar of music is formed by the notes of a certain value that occur between any 
two bar lines. To indicate the end of a part or tune, double perpendicular lines 

are drawn across the stave. When any part of a tune has to be repeated, two dots 
appear, the one above the other, immediately before the last bar line of the part 
to be played over again 


In piobaireachd very often when one or two bars are intended to be played twice 
over, as will be seen in many books of pipe music, those bars are bracketed and 
marked " bis," which means to play twice. 

Rudiments of Music Applicable to the Highland Bagpipe iii 

Piobaireachd is a classical music, and very often notes have to be lengthened 
according to the taste and discretion of the composer and performer. Therefore 
a pause, or halt, is used, and placed above the note that is intended to be length- 
ened (£V Were it not for such signs and several cadences, which beautify and add 
to its classical grandeur, piobaireachd would have no charm or elegance. 

Something important may be said regarding the manner in which time signatures 
should be observed in the performance of piobaireachd or a classical music. It is 
impossible to give proper effect to pauses and certain cadences in piobaireachd if 
the time signatures are strictly adhered to, because if the bars here illustrated 


{ ?.flfr 




fcMLIr |n u ^ 


g J 

are performed strictly in f time, the pause on the E and F, and the cadence on the C 
and B could not be given effect to at all. When musical thoughts or compositions 
are transmitted to paper in writing, they must first be played, then written. There- 
fore a tune must be written in the time which gives it most expression, and as near 
to the actual instrumental performance of the composer as it is possible to write it. 
For example, let us now write out the two bars already illustrated and see the nearest 
time they would actually represent. 

To give the pauses on the E and F, the extra time or value which enhances and 
beautifies them by expression and fine feeling, and to write the cadences on C A 
and B G in their actual time value, they would appear as follows : — 



1 L 



' r^f-J- 


This is now common time instead of first illustrated in f time. There are four 
beats in each bar as given above, whereas in the first illustration there were only 
two. The first illustration may appear to be quite wrong, and the second setting 
as near right as it is possible to time it. But this is one of the special and most 
important points in timing and performing piobaireachd, and still further explanation 
and illustration are necessary. 

I 12 

Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

If, for instance, we have the first strain of the Urlar of a piobaireachd as under- 

go. 3 






p-^u— gj 

4 5 6 

The two bars as they appear in the first illustration are Nos. 2 and 6 in 
the above, and both are written in the same time. They have to be so timed because 
we have other four bars in the strain, which are strictly confined to | time. By 
using the pause on E, and the cadence and pause on C in bar No. 2, and the same with 
the F and B in bar No. 6, the true characteristic of piobaireachd appear. Such 
instances are peculiar to piobaireachd alone, which add to its beauty, and make 
it impressively grand. 

Now, if bars Nos. 2 and 6 were written as they are actually played and illus- 
trated in No. 2, the time in illustration No. 3 would be entirely wrong. There 
would be four bars written in f time and two bars in common time. This would be 
irregular and quite out of place. Therefore, § time is correct by a majority of two bars. 

The art of piobaireachd requires special study, and care should be taken to 
adhere to the rule, that in grouping notes together in certain movements in 
piobaireachd, all notes joined together in one group should represent one beat 
according to the time signature used in the construction of the tune or variation, 
and given at the beginning. 

The pauses and cadences which occur in piobaireachd go a long way to prove 
that it is not adapted, and never was intended for marching to. In the ordinary 
marching tune the foot must come down upon the proper note or beat ; hence the 
performer is restricted to exact time as the case may be. But by giving effect to 
certain signs already described it is utterly impossible to march to piobaireachd. 
The use of pauses and cadences in " Ceol Mor " prevents the performer from adhering 
so strictly to time signatures as he can do in an ordinary March. This is quite 
allowable and correct in a classical music, otherwise there would be no need for 
pauses or cadences at all. Still, time signatures must be observed and used in order 
to divide a tune into equal portions, which are known as bars or measures according 
to a given time signature. 

Rudiments of Music Applicable to the Highland Bagpipe 113 


Accent is the additional emphasis or stress given to certain notes more than 
others. In the pianoforte a note with a strong accent is produced louder 
or with mere volume of sound, as well as of longer duration, and a note 
with a weak accent is produced more softly, or with less volume of sound than 
others. But in bagpipe music the accent is given effect to by lengthening only in 
the case of a strong, and shortening only in the case of a weak accent. The notes 
of the bagpipe chanter vary in pitch. That is to say, an F is higher in pitch than B. 
Still, when the F note is produced on the chanter in actual playing it is always of 
the same loudness. The same with B. It is lower in pitch than F, but when played 
on the chanter it never varies in volume of sound. Accent also applies to the 
strongest emphasis, or most value being given to the first note immediately following 
each bar line. The grouping or tieing of notes together, and the order of their 
value at the beginning, and right through the tune, must be observed, as, for instance, 
in a March such as — 

No.l. « 2 3 4 6 6 

This being Simple Triple Time the strongest accent is on the first note and first 
beat, the second and third beat in each bar are of weaker accent. The accent in 
I time would be strong, weak, weak, in every bar right through an ordinary March, 
because the time never varies in any of the parts. 

In illustration No. 1 the accent on note No. 1 is strong, and weak on Nos. 3 
and 5. The beats also occur upon Nos. 1, 3, 5. Here the first note in the bar has 
more value than the second, and the beat is on the note A, which is nearest the clef. 
Piobaireachd is quite different. Take a Theme as follows, viz. : — 

No. 2. 

fail i U' 

The first note is of less value than the second, and although it seems peculiar, 


114 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

it is quite correct, because that is what is recognised as syncopated beats, a char- 
acteristic of Scotch music, and will be found in many of our Strathspeys as well as 
piobaireachd. Were it not for this style of accent peculiar more especially to 
Highland music, many of our fine pieces would lose their Celtic flavour and natural 
form. I have been assured of this fact by a competent musician, and if the matter 
is fully considered it will be found to be an absolute fact. 


Rhythm refers to the regular recurrence of accent, when several bars or 
measures are taken together. In other words, it is the regular grouping of 
long and short accented and unaccented syllables or sounds. Rhythm has 
been described by an eminent musician as "the disposition of the alternately strong 
and weak-accented and unaccented sounds, in such a way that at regular or irregular 
intervals one note brings to the ear the sensation of a rest, halt, or close more or less 


Syncopation is a term used to express a disturbance of the regular recur- 
rence or flow of accent. A clearer definition of the word may be a rhythmical 
arrangement by which the unaccented part of a bar, or the unaccented part 
of a member of a bar is tied to the accented part, and the accent thereby displaced 
or set aside. See illustration No. 2 under the heading of "Accent." 


Bagpipe Music is ornamented by means of grace notes. Ceol Mor is 
distinguished from Ceol Aotrom, and so are their respective systems of grace- 
notes. A growing evil in marching tunes nowadays is the use of so many 
superfluous grace-notes. One can go to excess in either way by using too much or 
too little ornamentation, but there is a happy medium even in the March, Strathspey, 
and Reel. If too few grace notes are used by a piper when playing Ceol Aotrom, 
it may be said that his performance is too plain, and void of life. On the other hand, 
when too many embellishments are indulged in, this type of a performer of pipe music 

Rudiments of Music Applicable to the Highland Bagpipe 115 

sacrifices the beauty of melody and harmony for mere execution alone. There is 
no fine feeling or expression about the performance of a March, Strathspey, or Reel 
which is massacred, or murdered by excessive gracing. There is a tendency on 
the part of many present-day performers to direct the whole of their attention to 
what may be termed too elaborate ornamentation. In the carrying out of this 
dangerous and unbecoming habit, pipers forget entirely that there is such a thing 
as melody in the tune which they are playing. When Marches, Strathspey, and 
Reels are performed with a medium or reasonable number of grace-notes, one hears 
the lighter music at its best. Then it is decorated in its most becoming ornamen- 
tation, and full of harmony, melody, and fine feeling. It would also be free from 
the grace note executioner's malady. 

Unlike Ceol Aotrom, Ceol Mor is not subject to the tyranny of excessive grace- 
notes. In that respect the performer of piobaireachd is confined to a limited 
amount of ornamentation, because this great music will not admit of too much 
embellishment. There are certain grace-notes peculiar to piobaireachd alone, 
which are at once apparent to those who are familiar with this special class of Celtic 
music. It is surprising indeed to think of how those grace-notes were suggested to 
the great composers of piobaireachd in the olden times, and how they were rooted 
so deeply in their minds. The art of manipulating the fine sets of grace-notes in 
Themes, and more especially Taorluath and Crunluath variations, is nothing short 
of marvellous, and must have been a special gift. In many instances one can detect, 
on listening to some performers of piobaireachd, that the Taorluath and Crunluath 
notes more especially are executed in a very slovenly manner. It is at the beginning 
of a piper's career, when he is under tuition with a good master, that this should 
be taken into most serious consideration. Pupils ought to see that they get a 
thorough grounding in the various types of grace-notes peculiar to piobaireachd 
and its Theme, as well as the particular variations. If the student once sees clearly 
through them, and is able to perform those intricate passages, when properly com- 
mitted to memory, they will never be forgotten. There are cadences in the Urlars 
and variations that are not properly performed by many pipers. In the G E cadence, 
for instance, although the E appears at many points as a grace-note, it must get 
the time of a full note. It must be played of medium duration according to the 
discretion of good performers, before this movement can get anything like justice, 
or become pleasing to the listener's ear. The G E D cadence is very often looked 
upon as a shake or G C D group of grace-notes in a March, which is quite wrong. Such 
a group, appearing in a March, would occur as a shake on C only. The G E D cadence 

1 1 6 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

in piobaireachd might often occur on C B, and sometimes on low A, and performed 
in an entirely different manner altogether from the shake in a March. In the case 
of the March the G C D occupies very little time indeed. The C grace-note is quite 
short, because it is an embellishment on the full note C, which follows it. But the 
G E D grace-note in piobaireachd must be properly explained and taught to the 
pupil to begin with in order to illustrate the difference between the two as already 
described. The E in the piobaireachd cadence is long, occupying the time of a 
quaver or fully more. In fact, some piobaireachd players extend the time of the 
E still further. If all E's in those cadences are played long, with a clear and distinct 
accent, they are most effective and beautiful notes in the performance of the art 
of ancient piobaireachd. When the performer cuts the E short in those movements 
then it is not like piobaireachd at all, but a common March. From this explanation 
it can be seen at a glance and easily understood why pipers had to study from seven 
to twelve years at the college of Boreraig in Skye. There the pupils studied under 
the great masters of old, who taught and explained to them the special peculiarities 
of piobaireachd. Without a perfect tuition and continued practice, no piper can 
ever hope to excel in the art of piobaireachd playing, even although he be a genuine 

Chapter VIII 

AS there are several points of great importance in the tuning of the Highland 
bagpipe it is necessary to deal here separately with it. The two small tenor 
drones are tuned in perfect unison with the low A, or keynote of the bagpipe 
chanter scale. The dos mor, or large bass drone would be in perfect unison with 
the same note an octave lower. When the Highland bagpipe is in proper playing 
order, with the whole of the reeds in perfect tune, the three drones have the best 
chord on the low A, then E, and high A. At the same time the drones should 
harmonize to a certain extent. In fact, to put it as clearly as possible, the three 
drones playing at the same time will harmonize or chord in some degree with every 
note of the chanter. To illustrate this more clearly, it is necessary to give the 
following analysis, viz. : — 

When the two small drones are going with the chanter we find the following 
results : — 

i. They are in perfect unison with the low A. 

2. The best chords are formed on E and the high A. 

3. Then F and C. 

4. Finally, low G, D, high G, and B in their order. 

5. When the three drones are going along with the chanter, the results would 

practically be the same. The only difference is the additional volume 
of sound from the big bass drone, which will not be in perfect unison 
with low A. 

Chapter IX 

ALTHOUGH several books of piobaireachd contain preludes of tuning there 
are very few pipers, if any, who make use of them. Individual pipers get 
into preludes of their own. No two pipers play the exact same tuning notes, 
and one can tell a piper's name by his method of tuning his pipes, without seeing 
him, if he is in the habit of hearing him play regularly. In many instances pipers 
foster tuning preludes far more than the regular practice of good piobaireachd, or 
even the lighter type of pipe music. Hence the saying arises — When a piper of 
this type has performed a few most elaborate preludes, or a series of nourishing 
tuning notes, his best performance is over. 

Taking piping in general, every piper has a style of playing entirely of his own. 
In this respect no two performers resemble each other. If it were not so there 
would be no room for competition. There would be no variety in the art of bagpipe 
playing. The individual style of all classes of pipers commands the attention of 
the hearer, and in professional circles this is the best practical test to prove the 
capabilities of the judge of bagpipe music. If half-a-dozen professional pipers took 
part in a competition, and they all played the same setting of " The Fairy 
Flag" without a flaw, then there would be nothing left for the judge to decide 
except the best individual style of performance, provided that all the performers' 
pipes keep in perfect tune from beginning to end of the piobaireachd. This is a 
thing which is worthy of special consideration in the event of judging several pro- 
fessional pipers who are equal in every other respect. 

Chapter X 



PIOBAIREACHD, the great music of the Celt, must have undergone many 
changes before it reached a state of perfection, like all other classes of 
music. We have no records of it in its crude state to show its progress in 
the earliest ages. No historian or writer in the olden days has touched on the subject 
in any way. Professors of music and their works are brimful of knowledge 
of all other classes of music, but they have left piobaireachd alone. Why ? Because 
they have not studied it. It must not be imagined that because piobaireachd is 
not included in the volumes that describe and define the masterpieces of Handel, 
Beethoven, and Wagner that it is of no significant importance. 

Piobaireachd is the classical music of the Celt. It is his own native music, 
and it is he who can describe it so as to make it appear in its true form, point out 
its real characteristics, and disclose its own peculiar individualities. 

The Highlander of old did not enter into a series of elaborate scales for his 
national instrument. The exact pitch of the bagpipe chanter scale in its infancy 
will always remain a mystery, as will its growth and maturity. A special feature 
about the bagpipe chanter scale is that it is of a solid or medium temperament. 
The Highlander did not go to extremes in either way. In whatever form he began 
he fixed his scale a little above what is termed now the middle of the Great Stave, 
and ended, so far as the compass of the chanter is concerned, with a fraction 
more than a full octave above that point. This proves that his thoughts or 
feelings were never excited to an extreme height or depth of pitch in his musical 
compositions. Ceol Mor begins with the Salute, and runs up a ladder or series of 
Themes in the Welcome, the Lament, the Farewell, the Gathering, the March or 
Challenge, and reaches a climax in the Battle Tune. The emotions which are con- 
tained within this limit move the Highland heart to joy and sorrow. They gather 
the clansmen, as they March or Challenge the enemy, and finish up in the Battle 

120 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

Tune with its low moaning hum and agonizing cry. Then the mingled thoughts of 
the Highland minstrel begin to come back to their normal state in the Warning. Wars 
often lead to further conflict, but in the Warning Theme the Highlander's emotions 
seem to reach a calmer and more settled attitude. For years the piper's thoughts 
have been lost or hidden in the " Nameless " tunes. The composers did not record 
their names or origins, and for that reason the performers who cams behind them 
have been groping in the mists of earlier years for their titles, or any fragment of 
traditional history that might lead to their author's names, or the circumstances 
which gave rise to their creation. As we leave the Battle Tune, a climax of the 
Celtic minstrel's aspirations in musical thought, we are gradually brought into less 
exciting Themes in the Warning tunes, and our emotions are purified, as it were, 
in the fire of piobaireachd without a name or origin. Then, as did the minstrel of 
old, we bathe our thoughts in the mingled Themes of a " Miscellaneous Class " of 
piobaireachd, which give vent to numerous grievances, and in many instances an 
utterance of irreparable loss. 

How so many piobaireachdan in good form have been preserved is little short 
of a marvel. We find from time to time tunes written in a very irregular manner, 
but this cannot be termed as piobaireachd in its formation or earliest stages. Tunes 
so written even on old paper are not so much an indication of Ceol Mdr in its crude 
state as the piper's want of musical knowledge which prevented him from writing 
the tune properly. Many of the first compositions in piobaireachd would naturally 
be in danger of being lost for want of a notation, and then the question of a method 
of recording tunes must have arisen in the composers' minds. The Highlander must 
have had many disadvantages and hindrances to overcome in the initial stages of 
the creation of Ceol Mor. It is not impossible to imagine that his great Theme 
was developing in his own mind long before he even dreamt of his national instru- 
ment or its particular form. First of all, he would have to curb his rude Themes by 
rules which would afterwards govern his compositions, and in order that he might 
do so, he had to fix on a scale and a method of musical notation, as well as to invent 
an instrument on which to play his compositions. We cannot help thinking that 
the pioneers of piobaireachd were face to face with a most difficult situation. Three 
important things which they could not avoid had to be dealt with and settled. 
First, the invention of a musical instrument on which to perform their compositions; 
second, a scale to direct and guide them in the creation of their Themes and Varia- 
tions ; and third, the determination of a notation in which to preserve their own 
native music. 

The Growth of Piobaireachd and its Preservation 121 

It is difficult to say how much more than a chanter, a bag, and a blowpipe 
the Great Highland Bagpipe had in its primitive state, but the chanter was the 
most important part of the instrument. In it was centred the entire mechanism 
and development of that which is now known to every Highlander as a national 

With the invention of the first Highland Chanter came the production of a 
series of regular or irregular sounds. On the completion of the first chanter doubt- 
less the inventor would be more or less satisfied with its notes or sounds, but as 
time went on his ear would become more acute, and then he could not fail to detect 
irregularity in the sound waves that issued from his rude instrument. 

We have no evidence to prove the compass of the first Highland Bagpipe chanter 
or how many notes it could produce. The scale depended entirely on the nature 
of the instrument itself, and, like all other classes of music, the wild chant of the 
early Highlander must have been more or less irregular in its orig'nalform. The 
intervals in the pitch of the notes of his scale would be unsatisfactory to his ear, 
and as time passed he would naturally discover and correct its defects. 

There is an important thing in the creation of a scale and an instrument on 
which to play it that must not be overlooked. A scale can be produced vocally 
and even brought to perfection by the voice alone. In fact, instrumental music 
can only be looked upon as an imitation of the human voice, because the first musical 
sounds were uttered by man before the invention of instruments at all. A scale 
may be perfect in itself as far as the voice is concerned, but an imperfect instrument 
will never reproduce it exactly. Therefore the Highland Bagpipe chanter has had 
to pass through the process of gradual improvement before reaching its present 

Even to-day in some instances the chanter as it leaves the workshop is not 
perfect so far as the exact pitch of some of the notes is concerned. The fault does 
not lie with the instrument, but the maker who sends it out in an imperfect state, 
although many pipers carry fault-finding too far ; further, in fact, than their musical 
knowledge entitles them, or than they have the ability to prove. 

I daresay many pipers have heard the fairy tale of old, that the ancient com- 
posers completed their piobaireachd, both Theme and Variations, without even 
writing it down, so that if this be the truth the question of a notation required no 
thought or invention. If the old pipers could rise to such achievements, it says 
very little for the present-day piper who must use pen and paper to keep him in 
mind of the simplest form of pipe tunes. 


Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

Canntaireachd seems to be the first system of musical notation that was ever 
brought to perfection for recording piobaireachd, and it was the invention of the 
great MacCrimmons. If they could have produced their compositions perfect 
without writing them on paper then canntaireachd would never have been heard 
of. I say it is an utter impossibility to complete the intricate variations of a 
piobaireachd from an original Theme in perfect form without writing it on paper, 
and if all pipers tell the truth they must admit that this is so. 

I have already dealt with the MacCrimmon sol-fa notation to a considerable 
extent, but still more remains to be said about their scale. The tonic sol-fa scale 
resembles the MacCrimmon Canntaireachd in that it is vocal, and is intended to be 
a system of notation, more for training or writing music for the voice than for instru- 
ments. I will give below a series of translations of scales for the Highland Bagpipe 
chanter, viz. : — The scale in Staff Notation, in the Movable Doh System, the Fixed 
Doh System, and in a Phonetic Vowel System. 

The Highland Bagpipe Chanter Scale 

In Staff Notation. 

The Movable Doh System. 

The Fixed Doh System 
Phonetic Vowel System. 



A B 



Doh Ray Me Fah Soh Lah Te Doh 
Lah Te Doh Ray Me Fah Soh Lah 
o a ae ei i ie u e 

Sound the Phonetic Vowel Scale as follows : — " Um as in nm--pire, using the m 
consonant to close the lips, making them represent the chanter when closed ; " 
" o as in o-vation ; " "a as in a-muse ; " " ei as in ej'-rie ; " " i (short) as in d-j'-p ; " 
"' ie as in eir-ie ; " " u as in w-grian — oo'grian ; " and " e as in e-mit." 

The following is a translation in Canntaireachd of the first strain of 

"The Piobaireachd Society's Salute" 

Hiei-a ieclir-ie - 

The Growth of Piobaireachd and its Preservation 123 







hi-ei iedir-ie - 1 - ei hi - ei, hiei-uba-uma iedir-ie - i - hei, 



m jm 




pp i 

hiei-o - do - ro hi-um-da, idier-i - ei hi-um - da hei - ba - bo. 

This illustration of translation works out in keeping with the Phonetic Vowel 
Scale given on the previous page. 

It will be observed in the first movement or group of notes in the fourth bar 
that " b " is used as a grace-note between the first two notes, and " um " is taken 
as the second G grace-note because it gets more time value than the first G, and 
this produces the actual sound of the chanter. By using the letter " b " as the 
grace-note in the B B B and DBA movements the closing and opening of the 
chanter is reproduced in the syllabic notation. 

Apart altogether from a system of notation the canntaireachd will never die 
out. It is still crooned by the father to the son as it was in the days of the Mac- 
Crimmons. It is the music of the piob mhor transformed into the language that 
will always make the pulse beat faster where the blood is purely Celtic, and tune 
those tender chords in perfect harmony where the heart is truly Highland. 

One may sing a scale in the same syllable from beginning to end, such as : — 


Lah. Lah. Lah. Lah. Lah. Lah. Lah. Lah. 

But, as already indicated, there was something more in the real MacCrimmon scale 
and notation than the tonic sol-fa or single syllable. 

If the MacCrimmon scale and sol-fa or syllabic notation was to be of any use 
at all it must have been phonetic. The tunes which they composed were sung over 
or chanted, giving each note and movement in an articulate method. They named 
their system of notation " Canntaireachd," because canntaireachd means to chant, 
and the instrument which was chosen by the Highlander to play his music on was 
named a " Chanter," because it produced the sounds which the old masters chanted 
or sung when composing tunes and teaching their pupils. 

The MacCrimmon music was produced articulately to represent the exact 
phonetic sound of the notes or movements on the chanter, this being so, 

124 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

only one thing of vital importance remained a stumbling-block to the pupil, and 
that was time or duration of the notes. 

As well as a scale, the Skye masters had a method of grouping movements, 
such as Leumluath, Taorluath, and Crunluath, by particular vowels and diphthongs, 
while the various types of cuts and grace-notes were indicated by corresponding 
combinations of labial and dental consonants preceding the vowels. Time, so far as 
it is expressed, was by other assortments of liquid consonants succeeding the vowels. 

By adopting an articulate phonetic system of musical notation for the Highland 
Bagpipe, tunes could be sent to all parts of the country written on paper and under- 
stood by any piper much more easily than the staff notation. The reason being 
that even when staff notation was brought to perfection, the pipers' articulate 
phonetic system was more easily followed at first sight than the staff notation. 
Very few pipers of the real old school knew anything at all about staff notation, 
and they adhered to the syllabic method because the syllables that were written 
before them were fac similes of the sound of each note on the chanter, and these, 
in addition to a good ear, were all that was necessary in nine cases out of ten. 

With the passing of the old MacCrimmon school of piobaireachd at Boreraig, 
Skye, there has also passed away their Canntaireachd or sol-fa notation, for although 
much has been said about it of late in the correspondence columns of that most 
valuable paper, The Oban Times, there are really no pipers who record their tunes 
in a syllabic notation or even play from it. It is not impossible to bring back to 
use a perfect system of phonetic sol-fa notation for the Great Highland Bagpipe, 
but, as I have already said, it would be needless to do so if pipers were not to use it 

The piper's sol-fa notation is like the Gaelic language. One does not like to 
see it die out, for the reason that it is an ancient relic of the past, but at the same 
time the staff notation has got too great a hold on the piping fraternity, and it has 
come to stay. 

That there was music in MS. form for the piob mhor in the Boreraig College, 
Skye, must be an undoubted fact, but what has become of it will probably never 
be cleared up. 

The rising of 1745 played havoc to Ceol Mor and pipe music in general. Piping 
was at a complete standstill for a time, and the fatal results which befel the Highland 
Clans at Culloden have left their mark on the classical music of the Great Highland 
Bagpipe, for many tunes have been lost altogether, while others are rendered name- 
less and become incomplete through neglect. 

The Growth of Piobaireachd and its Preservation 125 

The MacCrimmon sol-fa notation and their compositions so recorded must have 
perished after the rising of '45 or through the introduction of the new laws which 
were then brought into force. All clanships were broken up. The power of the 
Chief over his clansmen was taken away altogether ; the wearing of the kilt was 
forbidden ; and to be seen or heard playing the Highland Bagpipe at that period 
was as much as the cost of a man's life. 

Piping and pipe music assumed a most critical aspect, and from '45 to the end 
of the eighteenth century the Great Music of the Celt hung on a very slender thread. 
The love of piping was too deeply rooted in the mind and everyday life of the genuine 
Highlander, and he still kept up the old national traditions even at the risk of his life. 

A good store of piobaireachdan was committed to memory by the pipers of that 
date, and from the instrumental renderings of such tunes they were written down 
and preserved to this day. 

Towards the end of the eighteenth century several enthusiastic pipers began 
to realize that the preservation of piobaireachd was in a very perilous position. 
They began in earnest to collect and write them down, and eventually they appeared 
in published form in staff notation. 

Donald MacDonald, Angus MacKay, and Donald MacPhee are the names of 
the first three pioneers in this great work of rescuing piobaireachd from oblivion, 
and their works are still procurable. The three volumes are dedicated to the High- 
land Society of London, and prepared and published under many difficulties. 

Much credit is due to the enthusiasm and patriotic interest taken by the noble- 
men and gentlemen of the Highland Society of London in the encouragement and 
preservation of ancient piobaireachd. Through their illustrious patronage at a 
time when the existence of piobaireachd was at such a low ebb this ancient custom 
was very quickly revived, and a new as well as a lasting interest in its cultivation 
was created. The Highland Society of London was instituted in the year 1778, 
and amongst its objects is that of " Preserving the Martial Spirit, Language, Dress, 
Music, and Antiquities of the Ancient Caledonians." MacDonald, MacKay, and 
MacPhee were very much encouraged by the Highland Society of London in their 
work of rescuing piobaireachd. They held competitions at Falkirk and Edinburgh, 
and many valuable prizes were awarded to the competitors. The prize set of Highland 
Bagpipes was a much coveted hall-mark of excellence, and now it is the Gold Medal 
which is presented annually at Inverness and Oban that takes the place of the set 
of Bagpipes. 

From the classified list of piobaireachd which follows this chapter it will be 

126 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

seen that it comprises some two hundred and seventy-seven old tunes. Major- 
General Thomason published a volume of piobaireachd in an abbreviated system 
of notation which he called " Ceol Mor " for a short title. Although the General 
deserves great credit for such an excellent work, it must not be forgotten that the 
greater bulk of the tunes contained in " Ceol Mor " were all collected by MacDonald 
and MacKay. In fact, it may safely be said that the published and unpublished 
works of those two early collectors represent ninety per cent, of the total tunes 
contained in " Ceol Mor." 

Among the old composers of piobaireachd we find the following names : — The 
MacCrimmons, MacArthurs, Maclntyres, Mac Kays, MacKenzies, MacLennans, 
Camerons, MacDonalds, MacRaes, MacDougalls, MacLeans, MacLeods, and Frasers. 
The MacCrimmons, of all composers of ancient piobaireachd, cannot be denied the 
special honour of being placed in the front rank of the great composers of Ceol Mor. 
The love for and power to compose piobaireachd must have been special gifts to 
them, because as we come down a long hereditary line those ancient sons of Skye 
seemed to hold full sway and govern not only the art of piobaireachd itself, but the 
younger pipers who followed them, as well as having a supreme authority or influence 
over the Highland Chieftains, who sent their pipers to Boreraig for tuition, or repaired 
to the Skye masters for wise advice. The other composers whom I have mentioned 
have all added their contributions to our Great Music, and as opportunity permitted 
they wrote another page of what is now our " Ceol Mor " or repository of classical 
pipe music. 

It is questionable if ever the exact extent of the compositions of the Skye masters 
(the MacCrimmons) will be fully measured, or if the entire number of tunes which 
this famous piping race has composed can ever be counted and placed to their credit, 
because there are hundreds of good piobaireachdan which have no composers' names 
attached to them, nor can any real trace of their origin be found. The same may 
be said to a more limited extent about the other composers. 

Of the three hundred and eight piobaireachdan listed and classified, the great 
majority are of three strains of six, six, and four bars, then equal strains of four, 
four, and four bars, which when played in full represent the same number of bars 
in a Theme of six, six, and four bars, viz., sixteen bars in all for both these classes. 
Although we have quite a number of other Themes more irregular in length, such 
as twelve, twelve, and eight bars, and eight, ten, eight, and ten bars, yet the proper 
form of a regular Theme seems to be a total of sixteen bars, of six, six, and four, 
or four bissed, four, and four. 

The Growth of Piobaireachd and its Preservation 127 

Before closing this chapter, I have left the most important part to the last, and 
that is the revival of the art of composing piobaireachd. It seems a special feature 
of the Highland Gatherings even of old as well as at the present day to hold com- 
petitions for piobaireachd playing. I refer to the competitions held at Falkirk and 
Edinburgh under the patronage of the Highland Society of London. There is one 
thing that is distinctly noticeable, and that is the fact that we do not see a 
MacCrimmon's name appearing in a list of competitors or prize-winners at any 
of those Gatherings. Perhaps the best of the great MacCrimmons were gone 
before those competitions started, and those who were left did not compete. It 
would seem, therefore, that they were of too high an order to enter into com- 
petition for prizes, the results of which could only be that they would have been 
competing with their own pupils, and reducing their rank or superiority as masters 
of the arts of composing and teaching. 

Man} 7 pipers of the present age seem to think that the composition of piobaireachd 
should be treated as a lost art, and that it is presumption on the part of any modern 
performer on the Great Highland Bagpipe to challenge comparison with the great 
masters of the past. 

If this is the aspect in which we are to look on science or art of any description, 
then the wheels of progress and enlightenment must come to a complete standstill, 
and we will have to remain content to allow our minds and talents to lapse into a 
barren and morbid condition. 

If there is any martial spirit left in the patriotic Highlander of to-day, he cannot 
rest content to see his ancient customs die out for want of reviving and raising 
them to a state of perfection again, and those who do compose original piobaireachd 
may rest assured that even the MacCrimmons, if they were with us now, would not 
look on our efforts in such a gloomy manner. It is only pipers of that class who 
cultivate jealousy, or who wish to remain as they are, who would attempt to spoil 
the good work of the revival of the composition of piobaireachd. 

It has been suggested by several lovers of Ceol Mor to open the composition of 
original piobaireachd to competition as a means of encouraging the creation of new 
tunes. While we have competitions for piobaireachd playing with good results, 
if the composition of original piobaireachdan were to be opened to competition, the 
results would be fatal, and outwith the meaning and ancient customs that prevailed 
when the Skye masters and creators of piobaireachd were at their best. Ossian 
did not compose his poems for the mere sake of superiority in the rank of poets 
any more than did the MacCrimmons create their masterpieces with a view to blot 

128 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

out the efforts of others. Ossian was born a poet and could not help composing his 
poems, and when he was inspired on many unexpected occasions and in peculiar 
places, he must have had to get his pen and write down his best specimens of Celtic 
lyre and poetic thought. From Celtic Scotia's greatest poet (Ossian) and ancient 
Caledonia's greatest creators of Ceol Mor (the MacCrimmons), I would suggest 
why piobaireachd composition should not be opened to competition. 

Ossian had a reason for composing all his poems, and a mere reward was not 
his goal. The MacCrimmons composed their best Themes with variations to com- 
memorate occasions in everyday life, and nothing could lure them to look upon 
their compositions in a competitive light. By doing so both Ossian as a poet and 
the MacCrimmons as composers of piobaireachd held themselves as supreme, and 
for that reason they have always been looked upon as masters who have never been 
excelled in their profession. 

One has only to look down the long classified list of piobaireachd given here to 
see and prove what I have said in this direction. There was a reason for composing 
all tunes, and every Theme tells its own story to those who can understand it. 

If a competition were got up for the composition of piobaireachd, then the piper 
would be composing for the sake of a prize alone, and the classical music of the Great 
Highland Bagpipe would lose its ancient characteristic grandeur. Such tunes 
would have no histories ; no origin other than the greed of gain, and Cedl Mor proper 
would be a doomed art. 

If the composition of ancient piobaireachd is to be revived and fostered as it 
was in the beginning, the desire to compose original tunes must come from the heart 
of the creator for the pure love of the art alone. Then we will find Themes to com- 
memorate what has happened on special occasions ; to perpetuate the memory of 
the departed Chieftain ; to record great deeds of valour in the hour of battle, when 
our Highland armies fear no foe ; and where the Celtic minstrel sounds the triumphant 
charge 'mid the cries of victory and the cannon's deadly roar. 

Great and memorable occasions still arise which make a claim on us as patriotic 
performers of the ancient Highland Warpipe, to create a new Theme as an expression 
of joy or sorrow, and if the average piper finds no charm in the newer Themes to 
enchant his soul, then let him repair to his Ceol Mor and play the Lament for the 
lathers of piobaireachd, " Cha till MacCruimein." 

Chapter XI 

CEOL MOR is a fountain of the classical music of the Great Highland Bagpipe. 
It is full and overflowing with Themes that have from time to time been 
created and floated through a Celtic atmosphere into the great reservoir 
that supplies the Highlander with a summary of musical thoughts for his ancient 
and warlike piob mhor. It must not be understood when one speaks of " Ceol 
Mor " that it means one particular book, or even books, but that it is an entire 
record of every piobaireachd in existence. 

To give a list of every known piobaireachd in this work makes it more complete, 
and may serve many good purposes. Three of the most important reasons are : — 
First, it will be found useful for handy reference ; second, it seeks to classify 
piobaireachd as far as possible into the different species of tunes, as already defined ; 
and third, it shows the reader and the student at a glance the occasions which gave 
rise to the various types of tunes, and constitutes a reason why the composition 
of piobaireachd should not be opened to competition, which is more fully dealt with 
in the previous chapter. 

To allocate the different tunes to the various Highland Clans would, in many 
instances, be a task well nigh impossible, and might lead to endless controversy, 
but the classification of piobaireachd is a matter of great importance to the teacher 
as well as to the student. 

There are only two classes in the following list, viz., the "Nameless" and 
" Miscellaneous " piobaireachdan, that may safely be termed as inapplicable to the 
Salute, the Welcome, the Lament, the Farewell, the Gathering, the March or 
Challenge, the Battle Tune, or the Warning. Of the nameless tunes there are many 
with exquisitely grand Themes, and one who has a minute knowledge of piobaireachd 
might easily tell from their construction whether they were intended to be a Salute, 
Lament, or any other class of tune, but in the opinion of the critic doubt would 
always exist, so that the best remedy is to allow them to remain " Nameless," a 
class by themselves. 

30 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

In the " Miscellaneous Class " there are tunes such as " Praise for Marion," 
" The Pretty Dirk," " Scarce of Fishing," and " Too Long in this Condition," that 
one might be inclined to allocate to the Salute, and the Lament, or that " A Taunt 
on MacLeod," and " Dispraise of MacLeod " would lead to, or are applicable to 
the Battle Tune, still, they are all more or less of a varying character, and for this 
reason they are better classified as " Miscellaneous Piobaireachdan." 

In the definition of Piobaireachd I have divided Ceol Mor into eight different 
classes, but with those under the heading of " Nameless " and " Miscellaneous " 
I give the following list of tunes under ten different headings. Those marked (*) 
are my own compositions : — 


*i. His Most Excellent Majesty King George V. Salute. 

*2. His Most Excellent Majesty King Edward VII. Salute. 

*3. H.R.H. The Duke of Connaught's Salute. 

*4. H.R.H. Prince Arthur of Connaught's Salute. 

5. Abercairny's Salute. 

6. Argyll's Salute. 

7. The Atholl Salute. 

*8. The Duke of Atholl's Salute. 
9. Berisdale's Salute. 

10. The Black Watch's Salute. 

n. Boisdale's Salute. 
*I2. The Marquis of Bute's Salute. 

13. The Laird of Borlum's Salute. 
*i4. Lord Archibald Campbell's Salute. 

15. Salute to G. Campbell of Calder. 
*i6. Captain John Campbell of Kilberry's Salute. 

17. Lachlan MacNeill Campbell of Kintarbet's Salute. 

18. Catherine's Salute. 

*ig. The Earl of Cassillis' Salute. ■ 
20. Castle Menzies' Salute. 
2i. Chisholm's Salute. 

22. Chisholm of Strathglass's Salute. 

23. Salute to John Ciar. 

♦24. Salute to Sir George A. Cooper, Bart. 
25. Corrinessan's Salute. 

The Classification of Ceol Mor 131 

26. Davidson of Tulloch's Salute. 

27. Lady Doyle's Salute. 

28. Duntroon's Salute. 

29. The Elchies or MacNab's Salute. 
*30. The Duke of Fife's Salute. 

31. The Gordon's Salute. 

32. The Gunn's Salute. 

*33- The Duke of Hamilton's Salute. 

34. The Highland Society of London's Salute. 

35. The Highland Society of Scotland's Salute. 

36. The Inveraray Salute. 

37. King James Sixth's Salute. 

38. Kinlochmoidart's Salute. 

39. The Laggan Salute. 

40. Lochiel's Salute, or "Away with your Tribe, Ewen." 
*4i. Lord Lovat's Salute. 

42. MacDonald of the Isles' Salute. 

43. Sir James MacDonald of the Isles' Salute. 

44. Lady Margaret MacDonald's Salute. 

45. The MacDonald's Salute. 

46. The MacDougall's Salute. 

*47. The Mackintosh of Mackintosh's Salute. 

48. Maclntyre's Salute. 

49. MacKenzie of Applecross's Salute. 

50. MacKenzie of Gairloch's Salute. 

51. MacLeod of Gesto's Salute. 

52. MacLeod of Raasay's Salute. 

53. Roderick More MacLeod's Salute. 

54. MacLeod of Tallisker's Salute. 

55. Mrs. MacLeod of Tallisker's Salute. 

56. Cluny Macpherson's Salute. 

♦57. Major John MacRae-Gilstrap of Ballimore's Salute. 

♦58. Captain Colin MacRae of Feoirlinn's Salute. 

*5g. Lady Margaret MacRae's Salute. 

60. Melbank's Salute. 

61. Captain W. H. Drummond-Moray of Abercairny's Salute. 


132 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

62. The Menzies' Salute. 

63. The Munro's Salute. 

64. The Piper's Salute to his Master. 
*65. The Piobaireachd Society's Salute. 

66. The Prince's Salute. 

67. The Clan Ranald's Salute. 
*68. The Earl of Seafield's Salute. 

69. The Earl of Seaforth's Salute. 

*yo. The Marquis of Stafford's Salute. 

71. Strowan Robertson's Salute. 

72. Sobieski's Salute. 

73. Mrs. Smith's Salute. 

74. General Thomason's Salute. 

75. Miss Mabel Thomason's Salute. 

*76. The Marquis of Tullibardine's Salute. 

77. Young King George III. Salute. 

78. The Young Laird of Dungallon's Salute. 

79. Young Neill's Salute. 


*i. Her Most Excellent Majesty Queen Mary's Welcome to Holyrood Palace. 

2. Welcome Johnny Back Again. 

3. You're Welcome, Ewen Lochiel. 

*4. The Earl and Countess of Seafield's Welcome to Castle Grant. 


*i. Lament for Her Most Excellent Majesty Queen Victoria. 

*2. Lament for His Most Excellent Majesty King Edward VII. 

3. Lament for Abercairny. 

4. The Aged Warrior's Lament. 

5. Lament for Young Allan. 

6. Lament for Lady Anapool. 

7. Lament for the Earl of Antrim. 

8. Lord Breadalbane's Lament. 

9. The Brother's Lament. 

10. Lament for Donald Cameron. 

11. Catherine's Lament. 

The Classification of Ceol Mor 133 

12. The Children's Lament. 

13. Lament for John Ciar. 

14. Lament for Claverbouse. 

15. Lament for General Cleaver, or Claverhouse. 

*i6. Lament for Sir Alan Colquhoun of Colquhoun, Bart., K.C.B. 

17. The Company's Lament. 

18. Lament for the Laird of Contullich. 

19. The Daughter's Lament. 

20. Lament for the Dead. 

*2i. The Earl of Dunmore's Lament. 

22. Donald Gruamach's Lament for his Elder Brother. 

*23. Lament for Duncan MacRae of Conchra. 

24. Duncan MacRae of Kintail's Lament. 

25. Lament for the Castle of Dunyveg. 

26. Finlay's Lament. 

27. Lament for Colonel Forbes. 

28. Lament for Brian O'Duff, or "The Frenzy of Meeting." 

29. Glengarry's Lament. 

30. Lament for Fred. Leveson Gower. 

31. Lament for the Great Supper. 

32. Lament for the Duke of Hamilton. 

33. Lament for the Harp Tree. 

34. Lament for King George III. 

35. Lament for King James's Departure. 

36. Kinlochmoidart's Lament. 

37. Lament for the Laird of Anapool. 

38. Lament for the Little Supper. 

39. Lord Lovat's Lament. 

40. Lament for Donald Ban MacCrimmon. 

41. Patrick Og MacCrimmon's Lament. 

42. Lament for Sir James MacDonald of the Isles. 

43. Lament for Lady MacDonald. 

44. Lament for Lord MacDonald. 

45. Lament for Ronald MacDonald of Morar. 

46. Lament for Alexander MacDonell of Glengarry. 

47. MacDonell of Laggan's Lament. 

134 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

48. Lament for Captain MacDougall. 

49. Mackintosh's Lament. 

50. Donald Dugal MacKay's Lament. 

51. Donald MacKenzie's Lament. 

52. MacKenzie of Gairloch's Lament. 

53. Lament for Colin Roy MacKenzie. 

54. Lament for Captain D. MacKenzie. 

55. Lament for Great John MacLean. 

56. Lament for Sir John Garve MacLean of Coll. 

57. Lament for Lachlan Mbr MacLean. 

58. Lament for Hector Roy MacLean. 

59. Lament for MacLeod of Colbeck. 

60. Lament for John MacLeod. 

61. Lament for MacLeod of MacLeod. 

62. Lament for Mary MacLeod. 

63. Lament for John Garve MacLeod of Raasay. 

64. Lament for MacLeod of Raasay. 

65. Lament for MacNeill of Barra. 

66. Lament for MacSuain of Roaig. 

67. The Old Sword's Lament. 

68. Lament for the Only Son. 

69. Lament for the Duke of Perth. 

70. Lament for Piper Samuel. 

71. Prince Charlie's Lament. 

72. Queen Anne's Lament. 

73. The Sister's Lament. 

*74. Lament for the Countess of Seafield. 

75. Lament for the Union. 

76. The Writer's Lament. 


1. Fare Thee Well, Donald. 

2. Farewell to the Laird of Isla. 

3. Leaving Kintyre. 

4. Farewell to Colonel Leigh. 

5. MacCrimmon Will Never Return. 

The Classification of Ceol Mor 135 

6. The Piper's Farewell to his Home. 

7. Beloved Scotland, I Leave Thee Gloomy. 


r. The Gathering of the Clan Chattan. 

2. The Cameron's Gathering. 

3. The Campbell's Gathering. 

4. The Grant's Gathering—" Craigellachie." 

5. The Gathering of the Clan Ranald. 

6. The Gathering of the MacDonalds of Clan Ranald to Sheriffmuir. 

7. The MacDuff's Gathering. 

8. The Macfarlane's Gathering. 

9. The MacGregor's Gathering. 

10. The MacKenzie's Gathering. 

11. The MacLean's Gathering. 

K i2. The Gathering of the Clan MacRae. 

13. The Sutherland's Gathering. 

14. The Parading of the MacDonalds. 

Marches or Challenges. 

1. Black Donald Balloch of the Isle's March to the First Battle of Inverlochy, 

or " Piobaireachd Dhomhnuill Duibh." 

2. Lord Breadalbane's March, or " The Carles with the Breeks." 

3. Alasdair Charich's March. 

4. Glengarry's March. 

5. The Hen's March o'er the Midden. 

6. The MacDonald's March. 

7. The MacKay's March. 

8. The MacLean's March. 

9. MacNeill of Barra's March. 

10. Cluny Macpherson's March. 

11. The MacRae's March. 

12. The Duke of Perth's March. 

13. The Earl of Ross's March. 

14. The Sinclair's March. 

136 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

Battle Tunes. 

1. The Battle of Auldearn. 

2. The Battle of Atholl. 

3. The Battle of Balladruishaig. 

4. The Battle of the Bridge of Perth, or " The Battle of the North Inch of Perth. 

5. The Battle of Doirneag. 

6. The Battle of Glen Sheil. 

7. The Battle of Bealach na'am Broig. 

8. The Desperate Battle, Cachulin. 

9. Fingal's Victory at the Carron. 
10. The Battle of Loch Carron Point, 
n. The Battle of Park. 

12. The Battle of the Pass of Crieff. 

13. The Desperate Battle, Perth. 

14. The Battle of Maolroy, or Isabel MacKay. 

15. The Rout of Glenfruin. 

16. The Rout of the MacPhees. 

17. The Rout of the Lowland Captain. 

18. The Battle of the Red Hill. 

19. The Battle of Sheriffmuir. 

20. The Battle of Castle Stronc. 

21. The Battle of Waternish. 

22. The Tune of Strife. 

23. The Battle of Waterloo. 

24. War or Peace. 


1. Duntroon's Warning. 

2. Hector MacLean's Warning. 

3. The Piper's Warning to his Master. 


19 nameless tunes have been rescued from oblivion, but no light has been 
thrown on their origin or their composer's name. 


The Classification of Ceol Mor 137 

Miscellaneous Piobaireachdan. 
Are You Sad ? 

A Satire on Patrick Choaig. 

A Taunt on MacLeod. 

4. Beinn a Chriann. 

5. The Bells of Perth. 

6. The Bicker. 

7. The Big Spree. 

8. The Blind Piper's Obstinacy. 
»/ 9. The Blue Ribbon (Isle of Mull). 

10. The Boat Tune. 

11. The Carles of Slegachin. 

12. Cheerful Scotland. 

13. The Comely Tune. 

14. The Crunluath Tune. 

15. Drizzle on the Stone. 

16. The End of the Great Bridge. 

17. The End of the Isheberry Bridge. 

18. The End of the Little Bridge. 

19. Ewen of the Battles. 

20. Extirpation of the Tinkers. 

21. Dispraise of MacLeod. 

22. Fair Honey. 

23. The Fairy Flag. 

24. The Finger Lock. 

25. The Frisky Lover. 

26. Fuinachair. 

27. The Glen is Mine. 

28. Grain in Hides and Corn in Sacks. 
1/ 29. The Grant's Blue Ribbon. 

30. The Groat. 

31. Hail to my Country. 

32. The Half Finished Piobaireachd. 

33. Hey ! for the Old Pipes. 

V 34. I got a Kiss of the King's Hand. 

35. The Inverness Piobaireachd. 

138 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 


Isle of Skye Piobaireachd. 


The King's Taxes. 


The Little Finger Tune. 


The Little Spree. 


MacCrimmon's Sweetheart. 

4 1 - 

Angus MacDonald's Assault. 


The MacDonalds are Simple. 


The MacDonald's Tutor. 


The Mackintosh's Banner. 


The MacKay's Banner. 


MacLeod of MacLeod's Rowing Piobaireachd 


The MacLeod's Controversy. 


MacNeill of Kintarbet's Fancy. 


Mary's Praise for her Gift. 


The Massacre of Glencoe. 


The Men went to Drink. 


The Middling Spree. 


My Dearest on Earth, give me your Kiss. 


My King has Landed in Moidart. 


The Old Woman's Lullaby. 


Praise for Marion. 


The Pretty Dirk. 


The Red Hand in the MacDonald's Arms. 


The Red Ribbon. 


The Sauntering. 


Scarce of Fishing. 


The Stuart's White Banner. 


Too Long in this Condition. 


The Unjust Carceration. 


The Vaunting. 


We will take the High Road. 


The Waking of the Bridegroom. 


Weighing from Land. 

Chapter XII 



A. — The keynote of the bagpipe chanter scale, and the note to which all the drones 

are tuned. The two tenor drones are in perfect unison with it, and 

the big drone chords with it. 
Accent. — Is the emphasis or additional stress given to some notes more than others. 
Adagio. — To play slow, with feeling. 
Andante. — A term applied to music, which means lively. 
Andantino. — To play slower than Andante. 
B. — The name of the second note of the bagpipe chanter scale. 
Bagpipe Music. — Music peculiar to the Great Highland Bagpipe, consisting of 

Piobaireachdan, Marches, Strathspeys, Reels, Jigs, and Hornpipes. 
Bar.— Perpendicular lines drawn across the stave to divide musical compositions 

into small portions of the same length, or the name given to the 

portion of music appearing between two bar lines. 
Battle Tune. — A species of piobaireachd composed and played in the time of war 

in the olden days, to incite the clansmen to battle, such as " The 

Battle of Sheriffmuir," " The Battle of Auldearn," and " The Battle 

of Atholl." 
Beat. — An ornament of melody, or the movement of the foot marking time to the 

corresponding divisions of a bar. 
Bis. — To play twice over. 
Breabach. — A term applied to a particular Taorluath and Crunluath Variation, which 

means leaping. 
Brisk. — To play in a lively and spirited manner. 
C. — The name of the third note of the bagpipe chanter scale. 

140 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

Cadence. — A close or final step of a strain, such as G E grace-notes on D, and G E D 
grace-notes on C, B, and low A. It may also be described as the intro- 
duction of a flourish, according to the taste of the composer, before 
entering upon a new variation. 

Canntaireachd. — A term applied to piobaireachd. An articulate bi-lingual musical 
notation, known as the " MacCrimmon verbal sol-fa notation." 

Cebl Mbr. — Piobaireachd, or the Great Music. 

Chant. — To sing as in Canntaireachd, or the sol-fa notation of the MacCrimmons. 

Chanter. — See Bagpipe and Practice Chanter. 

Characters. — Signs used in musical notation. 

Chord. — Two or more sounds in accordance with the laws of harmony produced at 
the same time. 

Classical Music. — Music of the highest class or rank, e.g., Piobaireachd is the classical 
music of the Great Highland Bagpipe. 

CleJ. — A sign placed at the beginning of the stave to indicate the absolute pitch 
of the notes. If we had no clef the notes would only show their 

relative pitch. The only one used in bagpipe music is 2k the G clef. 

Comma. — A sign used in Canntaireachd to mark off the smallest portion of a part 
or strain, the same as the bar line does in staff notation. 

Compound Times. — When several Simple Times are grouped together they then 
become Compound Time. 

Concord. — A combination of notes or sounds agreeable to the ear. 

Consonance. — Concord, unison, or the agreement of sound. 

Copyright. — As applied to music : The sole right which a composer has of publishing 
his compositions, which is protected by Act of Parliament for a period 
of years. The copyright of a musical work can be sold by the owner 
or composer. If the composer sells all rights he cannot print, copy, 
or sell any of the tunes so disposed of in whole or part. 

Couplet. — Two notes as in the Siubhal or First Variation of a piobaireachd. The 
dividing up of a bar into two instead of three equal parts. 

Crotchet. — A note one fourth of the value of a semibreve. 

Cruinneachadh. — Gathering, or rallying tune. 

Crunluath. — The variation in piobaireachd immediately following the doubling of 
Taorluath. There is no literal translation of the part " Crun," 
" Luath," means fast, quick, or speedy. 

Dictionary 141 

Crunluath Breabach. — A special species of Crunluath Variation. For separate words, 
see Breabach and Crunluath. 

Crunluath Fosgailte. — Also a special species of Crunluath Variation. Sec Fosgailte. 

Crunluath-a-Mach. — Mach means out. A Crunluath movement performed in a 
somewhat similar manner to the Fosgailte. 

D. — The name of the fourth note of the bagpipe chanter scale. 

D.C. Thema. — Da capo thema. To repeat the Theme or Urlar at the point where 
this sign appears. 

Demi-Measure. — Half a bar. 

Demisemiquaver. — A note equal to one quarter of the value of a quaver, and one 
thirty-second part of a semibreve. 

Dithis, Dithisd. — Two notes. A couplet. Siubhal or First Variation. 

Dirge. — A Lament, usually played at the funeral of the Chieftain or his clans- 

Discord. — Out of harmony, or an interval that does not give satisfaction to 
the ear. 

Dot. — . A sign placed after a note to increase its value one half. 

Double Bar. — Two perpendicular lines drawn across the stave to indicate the 
termination of a part or strain. 

Double Dot. — . . Signs placed after a note to increase its value by three quarters. 
The first dot is half the value of the note that it is intended to lengthen, 
and the second dot is half the value of the first dot. 

Doubling oj Crunluath. — A repetition of the Crunluath, all performed in the Crunluath 

Doubling oj Crunluath Breabach. — A repetition of the Crunluath Breabach, all per- 
formed in the Crunluath Breabach movement. 

Doubling oj Crunluath Fosgailte. — A repetition of the Crunluath Fosgailte, all per- 
formed in the Crunluath Fosgailte movement. 

Doubling oj Leumluath. — A repetition of the Leumluath, all performed in the Leum- 
luath movement. 

Doubling oj Taorluath. — A repetition of the Taorluath, all performed in the Taorluath 

Doubling oj Taorluath Breabach. — A repetition of the Taorluath Breabach, all 
performed in the Taorluath Breabach movement. 

Doubling oj Taorluath Fosgailte. — A repetition of the Taorluath Fosgailte, all 
performed in the Taorluath Fosgailte movement. 

142 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

Doubling oj Siubhal or First Variation. — A repetition of the First Variation. The 

first note in this movement is mostly the same as the Singling, but 

often the second or other notes vary. 
Doubling oj Urlar. — Sometimes known as the Thumb Variation ; but a proper Doubling 

of Urlar is quite different from the Thumb Variation, having no high 

A in it at all in many tunes. 
E. — The fifth note of the bagpipe chanter scale. 
Echo. — The repetition of a sound caused by a sound-wave coming against an 

opposing surface. 
Effect. — The impression produced by an action, or the impression given to certain 

movements or part of a movement in piobaireachd or pipe music. 
Emphasis. — The stress given to certain notes more than others. 
Etude. — A difficult tune intended for the practice of difficult passages, or to prove 

a performer's technical skill. 
Expression. — Fine feeling, or the performance of a tune with such grandeur as to 

effect the emotions of the Highland heart, as in the " Catherine's 

F. — The sixth note of the bagpipe chanter scale. 
Failte. — A Salute, or Welcome to the Chief. 
Farewell. — A species of piobaireachd composed and played on the occasion of the 

Chief or a clansman leaving his native country. 
Fine. — The end of a tune or composition. 
Form. — The grouping of musical thought. 
Forte. — Strong. 
Fosgailte. — An open movement found in First Variation, Taorluath, and Crunluath 

G. — The seventh note of the bagpipe chanter scale. 
Gathering. — A species of piobaireachd composed and played in the time of war in 

the olden days, to gather the clansmen for battle. 

G CleJ. — A sign placed on the second line of the treble stave 3g, which gives the 

note on that line the name of G. 
Gillie Callum. — A tune which is played to the sword dance. 
Graces. — Grace-notes, or the ornamentation of bagpipe music. 
Grave. — A very slow movement. 
Ground. — Urlar, or Theme of a piobaireachd. 
Halt. — A pause. 

Dictionary 143 

Harmony. — A simultaneous combination of accordant sounds. 

Hornpipe. — A species of dance tune played for the sailor's hornpipe. 

Jig. — A species of dance tune played to various dances. 

Key. — Pitch of the scale. 

Key Note. — The first note of the scale. 

Lament. — A very mournful species of piobaireachd composed on the death of the 

Ledger Line. — A short auxiliary line on which the high A is written above the stave. 

Leitmluath. — Leitm — Jumping or leaping. Luath — Fast, quick, or speedy. A 
variation in piobaireachd which conies immediately before its Doubling 
and the Taorluath. 

Lively. — To play with life, or vigour. 

Much. — Out. 

March. — A species of " Ceol Aotrom," or the lighter music intended to be marched to. 

March, or Challenge — A species of piobaireachd composed and played in the olden 
days as a challenge to fight. This must not be confused with the word 
" March " immediately above. The March or Challenge as a piob- 
aireachd is not intended to be marched to as an ordinary March. 

Measure. — A bar, or portion of a tune which lies between two bar lines. 

Melody. — A series of notes following each other, pleasing to the ear. 

Metronome. — An instrument that became known about 1816 for measuring musical 
time, consisting of a scale and • movable pendulum ; a bell which 
rings on the first beat of every bar. 

Minim. — A note half the value of a semibreve, and twice the value of a crotchet. 

Moderate. — To play neither too fast nor slow, but within bounds. 

Movement. — A portion of music grouped together, and performed without a break. 

Music. — A combination of musical sounds pleasing to the ear. 

Note. — A written sign which makes the musical value of a sound clear to the eye. 

Notation. — Written musical signs representing notes or sounds. 

Octave. — An interval of an eighth. 

Passage. — Any part or particular portion of a tune, such as a Taorluath or Crunluath 

Pause. — A sign used to indicate a rest iT». 

Phonometre.— An instrument used for the purpose of measuring sound. 

Phrasing. — The correct articulation (in canntaireachd) and accentuation of musical 

144 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

Piobaireachd.— Ceo\ Mor, or the classical music of the Great Highland Bagpipe. 

Pitch. — The degree of depth or height of any note. 

Pointed. — Having a keen or telling effect. 

Polka. — A species of dance music, sometimes played on the Highland bagpipe. 

Port. — A tune. 

Prelude.— A nourish, or short strain performed by pipers while tuning their pipes, 

or a short strain which is often played before beginning a tune. 
Quaver. — A note equal in value to one half of a crotchet, and an eighth of a semibreve. 
Quick. — To play in a very lively manner. 
Quicker. — To play in a still more lively manner. 
Quickstep. — A March, or tune intended to be marched to. 
Reed. — See Chanter and Drone Reeds. 

Reel. — A species of music played while dancing a Highland Reel. 
Rhythm. — The regular recurrence of accent, or the regular succession of heavy and 

light accents. 
Round Movement. — A particular part or passage in a tune. A group of notes with 

near relation to each other. Opinions differ widely in this respect. 

M'Donaldsays that the Crunluath is a round movement, while M'Phee 

terms the Leumluath a round movement. 
Salute.— -A species of piobaireachd composed in honour of a Highland Chieftain's 

birthday, marriage, or coming of age. The Salute was also composed 

and played in the olden days when the young Chief took possession 

of the estates and headship of the clan. 
Scholtische. — A particular tune of this name which is played for dancing purposes. 
Semibreve. — The name of the note of greatest musical value, but not made 

use of in the composition of tunes for the bagpipe. It is taken as a 

whole note, or the standard from which all notes of less value are 

Sharp.— ft A sign used to raise the note before which it appears, one semitone. 

No sharps are used in pipe music, because the scale is a fixed one. 

The three sharps in the scale of A major are given effect to by the 

bagpipe maker when he makes the chanter. 
Signature. — Signs placed at the beginning of the stave, i. Time signature. 2. 

Key signature. No key signatures are required in pipe music. 
Siubhal. — Travelling movement. Usually the First Variation in piobaireachd. 
Slow. — To play with feeling. 

Dictionary 145 

Slow and Distinct. — To play slowly and clearly, making every note tell distinctly. 

Slow March. — A dirge, or mournful March played at funerals. 

Slow and Pointed. — To play slowly, emphasizing some particular notes, or giving 
them a more telling effect than others. 

Smart. — To play in a very lively manner. 

Sol-Ja Notation. --The verbal, or syllabic notation of the MacCrimmons, known as 

Sound. — The impression produced on the ear by the vibrations of air. 

Spaidsearachd. — March or Challenge. 

Staff. — The stave. 

Stave. — The five parallel lines on which the notes are placed on the lines and in the 

Strain. — A tune, part of a tune, or a prolonged note. 

Strathspey.— A species of bagpipe music of a spirited nature which is played for 
dancing, and belongs to Strathspey district. 

Sword Dance. — See Gillie Callum. 

Symphony, or Symphonia. — An ancient Greek name given to the bagpipe. 

Syncopation. — To arrange the rhythm of a bar so that the unaccented part is tied 
to the accented part, thus displacing the accent or setting it aside. 

Taorluath. — The name of a variation in piobaireachd preceding the Crunluath. 
"Taor" has no English meaning. "Luath" means fast, quick, or speedy. 

Taorluath Breabach. — A special species of Taorluath Variation. For separate words, 
see Taorluath and Breabach. 

Taorluath Fosgailte. — A special species of Taorluath, or open Taorluath. For 
separate words, see Taorluath and Fosgailte. 

Taorluath-a-Mach. — A special species of Taorluath, which is sometimes given in 
piobaireachd collections as the Trebling of Taorluath. It is performed 
in an open movement only on B, C, and D. For separate words, see 
Taorluath and Mach. 

Temperament. — One of the peculiar physical and mental organisations which to a 
certain extent influences our thoughts. No two performers of 
piobaireachd, or pipe music, resemble each other in this respect. A 
tune or part of a tune that would move one individual to joy might 
move another to sorrow. Another instance which may be given is 
that a piobaireachd which may possess beauty and fine feeling in the 
mind of one piper may have no particular charm in the opinion of 

146 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

another. Temperament also applies to performance as regards the 
difference between a piper who gives his music with charm and fine 
effect, and another who performs his piobaireachd in a dull and lifeless 

Theme. — The Urlar, or Ground-work of a piobaireachd. The foundation or root 
from which spring all the variations in Ceol Mor. Without a Theme 
there would be no foundation or beginning, and no variations or ending 
to any class of musical composition. 

Tone. — A musical sound of a certain pitch or quality. 

Treble Clej. — The G clef fHtv, which is placed on the second line of the treble 

stave, counting from the bottom. 
Tune. — An air or melody which is easily caught by the ear. 
Unison. — The entire agreement of two sounds of the same pitch. 
Urlar. — Theme, floor, or foundation of a piobaireachd. 
Variations. — The ryhthmic changes of the Theme into a different form, such as the 

Thumb Variation, Siubhal, Leumluath, Taorluath, and Crunluath of a 

Warning. — A species of piobaireachd composed and played in the olden days in the 

time of war to warn the Chieftain and his clansmen of approaching 

Welcome. — A species of piobaireachd composed and played on the home-coming of 

the Chief, or on the occasion of a visit from a neighbouring Chieftain 

to assure him of a hospitable greeting. 
Whole Note. — A semibreve. 

Chapter XIII 

HAVING laid before the reader the fruits of many years' study and research 
in a great art which is destined to remain a monument to the ancient music 
of the Gael, I have now come to the summing up, and in that important 
step I have left to the last a short chapter in the hope of bringing more prominently 
to the minds of those who love piobaireachd the special characteristics of a great 
music. It has a more definite meaning than words, probably more to the com- 
poser than the performer who has no soul for music of this class ; it is the fruit of 
a thoroughly good heart and genuine inspiration. 

Had the MacCrimmons or the originators of piobaireachd died out before they 
completed or perfected this classical music there might indeed have been something 
left for us to display genius and talent upon : but, on the other hand, there is the 
danger that the art would never have attained its present state of perfection, and 
the greatest musical treasure of the Highlander would have been lost in oblivion. 

No evidence is known to exist by which the date of the origin or completion of 
piobaireachd can be determined. There is not a fragment left with us of the first 
method of writing " Ceol Mor " by its originators, and no actual matter written by a 
MacCrimmon's hand has ever been found. [Possibly they are only mislaid, and 
some future day will reveal an original MS. written by the masters of old. It will 
be a happy day for the piobaireachd student, and a treasure more dear to the 
Highland heart than tongue or pen can tell.] 

Piobaireachd is different from an ordinary song ; it is a classical music. Songs 
are confined to set time, but in the playing of piobaireachd the time is left very much 
to the discretion of the performer. The special manner in which " Ceol Mor " is per- 
formed is what gives it fine feeling and expression, thus disclosing its own peculiar 

The ease with which the MacCrimmons created piobaireachd, and turned out 
the best performers is somewhat remarkable. They never published their music. 
Their goal or ambition was to bring the construction and tuition of piobaireachd 

148 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

to perfection. They did not live for fame alone, but their fame alone shall live, 
while they sleep in the silent tomb, brave sons of the misty isle. They have gilded 
the pages of our "Ceol Mor" with a lustre that the genius of a modern age can 
never outshine. 

I have no intention in writing this work, of calling any attention to my own 
fragmentary efforts in the art of piobaireachd, much less to compare them with 
that of its originators or the great MacCrimmons. It is rather to recall their achieve- 
ments, which through time and neglect have become dim in our memories. 
My only hope is that I may do at least something to make those precious Themes 
sound as sweetly in the ear of the piobaireachd lover as they did in the days of old. 

The present work is not mere experiment, but the outcome of a desire to make 
piobaireachd clearer and more simple, as can be seen from the matter herein 

There is one fact about the playing of piobaireachd at the present day to which 
attention should be called, that is the tendency of some pipers to create a style of 
their own, and to depart from the original meaning as well as the manner in which 
this classical music should be performed. 

When " Ceol Mor" is properly played there are both elegance and beauty about 
it that command and draw the attention of its admirers in every sense of the word : 
but if it is reduced to a level with the ordinary March, Strathspey, and Reel, then 
it is no more a classical, but a common music, void of feeling and expression. It 
would be no more peculiarly grand, no more the great music of the Celt, nor what 
it once was when the skilled masters of the art were at their best. 

Here again we have occasion to remark the strictness and mode of teaching 
in the MacCrimmon school. Their methods were full of masterly culture and 
skilful ingenuity. Apart altogether from the revolutions of the wheels of time, 
which bring us into a more enlightened age, in which older methods are being cast 
aside and replaced by new ; still the MacCrimmon style of teaching and performing 
piobaireachd remains as prominent a landmark as it has been for ages. It is 
remarkable when we think of it, for many of the fine compositions of the Mac- 
Crimmons foreshadowed the great future of the generations that followed them. 

It is said that the performance of piobaireachd at the present day has reached 
a state of perfection that it never before attained, and that the MacCrimmons did 
not perform their masterpieces anything like it. There is also a supposition or 
belief that in the time of the Skye masters there were no grace-notes in piobaireachd. 
This is a problem very difficult to solve, and a statement very uncertain and hard 

The Creators of Ancient Piobaireachd 149 

to prove ; because there is no one alive who has ever heard the best of the great 
MacCrimmans play piobaireachd. Neither is there a person living known to have 
seen it written by them. It is more likely that many pipers who were uneducated 
in the art did not know the difference between a tune with grace-notes and one 
without them. So far as the present age is concerned, what we can say is that 
piobaireachd had grace-notes when we saw it first, and long before that time. There- 
fore it remains to be proved that no grace-notes were used in piobaireachd. On 
the other hand, if they are a modern invention, who designed or found out the secret 
of using them ? In the opinion of the best authorities, piobaireachd could never 
have been performed at any time without the grace-notes which are used at the 
present day. 

Some pipers are under the impression that piobaireachd had not the Crunluath 
variations originally and that they were added within recent years. It will be 
very difficult to prove how much more than an Urlar or Theme piobaireachd had in 
its infancy, or when it fully developed into its present form. It is quite certain that 
for at least three or four hundred years piobaireachd had all the variations that it 
now possesses. Naturally it is quite reasonable to believe that its growth was 
perhaps the production of centuries. First the Urlar, and then variation after 
variation might have been added until it was completed. Whether this was the 
case or not, or if the whole of the different variations were entirely the invention 
of the MacCrimmons, the originators of piobaireachd, or of one ingenious individual, 
it is very difficult to tell. One has only got to study the art to see that its growth 
and maturity must have been very rapid. Because the movements and execution 
of the one variation lead to the other. Hence it is a very logical method of solving 
this most difficult problem, to say that from the creation of the first Urlar to the 
completion of the last and most elaborate Crunluath Variation, it was all done at least 
within the space of from two to three hundred years. If we could only lift the 
misty curtain that hangs between us and the remote ages of the dim and distant 
past, who knows what a real glimpse of that glorious age would reveal to us ? It 
is not impossible to imagine that a more minute knowledge of the history of the 
early Christian era would throw a new light on the art of ancient piobaireachd 
that has never yet been revealed. Let us live in the hope that some day we may 
find the older Themes that we have never seen or heard. Then in reality we would 
be able to play the " Lost Piobaireachd," and in our hearts rejoice at the finding of a 
long-lost strain that must possess some secret charm which words cannot convey. 
Although we have hundreds of beautiful Themes, the heart of the Highland minstrel 

150 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

is always athirst, and yearning after that strain which dwells upon the " fairy 
duns " and enchants the soul ; sounds so sweetly in his ear, and carries him away 
to fairyland as no other Theme can do that lies within the realms of our Celtic 
" Ceol Mor." 

The creators of piobaireachd must have been so overcome with joy on the final 
completion of its form, even although the date is shrouded in antiquity and mystery, 
that it would have seemed to them as if they had taken an aerial flight into a new 
world of perfect harmony, touched the lost chord, and burst asunder the fetters 
which lay between them and a glorious achievement. 

No passages in pipe music can be more full of real life and romance than 
piobaireachd, yet without words, which can be read and understood by the High- 
lander alone. 

If we perform our duty to the masters of old from whom we have inherited this 
ancient and noble art, we should always praise them and remember that they were 
greater than we can ever hope to be. 

My closing lines can only be that if we wish to know what can be made of 
simple thoughts by labour and anxious care, and above all by genius, then look 
at the masters of old and see how they could ennoble and exalt their ideas, and how 
what was once a mere suggestion of nature, became a lofty ideal for the piping 
world to study and to praise. 

Chapter XIV 


TO the average piper copyright is well nigh a mystery, and very little is known 
to him about it. Perhaps it may be of interest to give in this work such 
information on that point as will be of some help to those who compose 
original pipe tunes. 

Going back to the " Musical Compositions Copyright Act, of 1888," it did not 
afford the necessary protection which authors, owners, or publishers of musical 
compositions require. In the case of a prosecution for the infringement of the 
copyright of pieces of music, the decision lay at the discretion of the judge before 
whom the action was conducted. In many cases where the defenders pleaded 
ignorance they were exempted from penalty for the illegal representation or per- 
formance of copyright musical compositions. 

" The Musical Summary Proceedings Copyright Act, 1902," was of a more 
stringent nature. It provides — Section 1 — " A court of summary jurisdiction, 
upon the application of the owners of the copyright in any musical work may act as 
follows : — If satisfied by evidence that there is reasonable ground for believing 
that pirated copies of such musical work are being hawked, carried about, sold, or 
offered for sale, may, by order, authorise a constable to seize such copies without 
warrant, and to bring them before the court, and the court, on proof that the copies 
are pirated, may order them to be destroyed, or to be delivered up to the owner 
of the copyright if he makes application for that delivery." 

Section 2 — li If any person shall hawk, carry about, sell, or offer for sale any 
pirated copy of any musical work, every such pirated copy may be seized by any 
constable without warrant, on the request in writing of the apparent owner of the 
copyright in such work, or of his agent thereto authorised in writing, and at the 
risk of such owner." 

" On seizure of such copies, they shall be conveyed by such constable before a 
court of summary jurisdiction, and, on proof that they are infringements of copy- 

152 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

right, shall be forfeited or destroyed, or otherwise dealt with as the court may 
think fit." 

Section 3 — " ' Musical Copyright ' means the exclusive right of the owner of 
such copyright under the Copyright Acts in force for the time being, to do or to 
authorise another person to do all or any of the following things in respect of a 
musical work : — 

1. : ' To make copies by writing, or otherwise, of such musical work. 

2. "To abridge such musical work. 

3. " To make any new adaptation, arrangement, or setting of such musical 

work, or of the melody thereof, in any notation or system." 

" ' Musical work ' means any combination of melody and harmony, or either of 
them, printed, reduced to writing, or otherwise graphically produced or reproduced." 
Pirated musical work ' means any musical work written, printed, or other- 
wise reproduced, without the consent lawfully given by the owner of the copyright 
in such musical work." 

" The Musical Copyright Act, 1906," is even more strict, and states in Section 1 — 
" Every person who contravenes it is liable to a fine not exceeding five pounds, and 
on a second and subsequent conviction, to imprisonment with or without hard 
labour, for a term not exceeding two months, or to a fine not exceeding ten pounds." 

Section 2. (1) " If a court of summary jurisdiction is satisfied by information 
on oath that there is reasonable ground for suspecting that an offence against this 
Act is being committed on any premises, the court may grant a search warrant, 
authorising the constable mentioned therein to enter the premises between the 
hours of six o'clock in the morning and nine o'clock in the evening, and, if necessary, 
to use force for making such entry, whether by breaking open doors or otherwise, 
and to seize any copies of any musical work, or any plates in respect of which he 
has reasonable ground for suspecting that an offence against this Act is being 

(2) " All copies of any musical work and plates seized under this section shall 
be brought before a court of summary jurisdiction, and if proved to be pirated copies 
or plates intended to be used for the printing or reproduction of pirated copies, shall 
be forfeited and destroyed, or otherwise dealt with as the court may think fit." 

Section 3 — " In this Act the expression ' plates ' includes any stereotype or 
other plates, stones, matrices, transfers, or negatives used or intended to be used 
for printing or reproducing copies of any musical work : Provided that the expres- 
sions ' pirated copies ' and ' plates ' shall not, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed 

The Copyright of Piobaireachd or Pipe Music 153 

to include perforated music rolls used for playing mechanical instruments, or records 
used for the reproduction of sound waves, or the matrices or other appliances by 
which such rolls or records respectively are made." 

The " Copyright Act, 1911," did away with registration at Stationers' Hall. 
Therefore registration of a copyright work is now unnecessary. There are certain 
points which must be carefully noted with regard to authors' or publishers' obliga- 
tions under the " Copyright Act, 1911," and one which affects the publishers of 
music as well as printed books, etc., is the British Museum and Library copies. 

The following extracts from Section 15 of the " Copyright Act of 191 1" (1 and 2 
George V., Cap. 46) set forth the claim of the British Museum to receive a copy of 
every book, newspaper, or other publication issued in the United Kingdom: — 

" The publisher of every book published in the United Kingdom shall, within 
one month after the publication, deliver, at his own expense, a copy of the book to 
the Trustees of the British Museum, who shall give a written receipt for it." 

" The copy delivered to the Trustees of the British Museum shall be a copy 
of the whole book, with all maps and illustrations belonging thereto, finished and 
coloured in the same manner as the best copies of the book are published, and shall 
be bound, sewed, or stitched together, and on the best paper on which the book is 

If a publisher fails to comply with this section, he shall be liable on summary 
conviction, to a fine not exceeding five pounds, and the value of the book, and the 
fine shall be paid to the trustees or authority to whom the book ought to have been 

" For the purpose of this section, the expression ' book ' includes every part or 
division of a book, pamphlet, sheet of letterpress, sheet of music, map, plan, chart, 
or table separately published, but shall not include any second or subsequent edition 
of a book unless such edition contains additions or alterations either in the letterpress, 
or in the maps, prints, or other engravings belonging thereto." 

The following extract from Section 3 of the same Act stipulates the period for 
which copyright subsists : — 

" The term for which copyright shall subsist shall, except as otherwise expressly 
provided by this Act, be the life of the author, and a period of fifty years after his 

Other points regarding the steps to be taken in cases of infringement of copy- 
right works, and the protection of a copyright work in foreign countries, will all be 
found in the " Copyright Act, 1911." 

154 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

So far as bagpipe music is concerned, when a book is published the title-page 
ought to contain the word " copyright," if all the tunes are original, and the copy- 
right belongs to the author, proprietor, or publisher. 

If a collection of piobaireachd or pipe-music is printed which contains partly 
original compositions, and partly tunes on which there is no copyright, the whole 
of the original tunes would be copyright, just the same as if the book only contained 
original tunes on which copyright subsists. The author, proprietor, or publisher 
has the sole right to the original tunes contained in the volume, and they are his 
private property ; so that anyone infringing his copyright is liable to prosecution. 
But the tunes on which the copyright has expired are public property, and the 
author, proprietor, or publisher of the book cannot prevent anyone from publishing 

All tunes composed over one hundred years ago are public property, and no 
copyright exists on them. 

Many books of pipe music bear the word " copyright," but the tunes contained 
in them are not copyright, because it has expired. This is done for various reasons, 
and is not in accordance with the proper meaning of the word " copyright." 

When the copyright laws are in perfect order we hope to see the day when this 
will be prohibited and become illegal, so that people may known the difference 
between what is actually copyright and what is not. 

One of the best things that could ever happen in pipe music is perpetual copy- 
right. This would prevent pipe-tunes from being tampered with, and re-set, or 
re-arranged. Interfering with a composer's original setting of a piobaireachd, or 
pipe-tune is one of the most serious steps possible. Because when a tune is altered 
by some ten to twenty pipers, by the time it exists for about fifty years it is unrecog- 
nisable. It is an easy matter to alter other people's compositions, when once a piper 
gets a melody or Theme to work upon, but very little credit is due to the second man. 
If we ever have perpetual copyright all this would be prohibited, though it were 
for nothing else than the preservation of piobaireachd. 

Anyone publishing a book of piobaireachd, and the tunes contained in it were 
a hundred years old, though they were the special settings of any piper, or publisher, 
no copyright would exist on that work, so long as those tunes are public property, 
as the owner of copyright tunes must be able to produce evidence, if necessary, that 
he is the actual proprietor. 

Immediately a piobaireachd or pipe-tune is created it is copyright because 
copyright is created by statute. But before the proprietor of a copyright 

The Copyright of Piobaireachd or Pipe Music 155 

collection of pipe music can prosecute anyone for infringing his copyright 
he must publish the work previous to taking legal proceedings against any 
party who reproduces his tunes. 

Even in original tunes, if a piper, author, proprietor, or publisher were to invent 
a special way of writing certain variations, the copyright laws might not protect 
that invention or special notation in such variations. Inventions come under the 
" Patents Act," not copyright. That does not mean that in the case of original 
tunes, written in a special way for the first time, anyone can reproduce or print them. 
But anyone might be able to write tunes on which no copyright exists in the same 
manner or notation. Therefore, before the special method of writing certain 
variations in piobaireachd could come under the copyright laws, or the person who 
first invented such method could claim the sole right to that special method under 
the copyright laws, the matter would more than likely have to be decided in a court 
of justice. 

In the event of anyone infringing the copyright of a book of pipe music, if the 
proprietor is not the author of the tunes, before taking legal proceedings such pro- 
prietor ought to take special precaution to see that he can produce satisfactory 
evidence that the copyright is solely his property. 

Take a case in point. When a Salute is dedicated to a Highland Chieftain by 
a clansman or any piper, and that Chieftain accepts dedication, then the copyright 
would belong to such composer. But if some other piper composed a Salute to the 
same Chieftain a year later, with the same title as the first composer, then there 
are several things to be considered. In the first place the Chieftain would have the 
power to settle the question so far. When he accepted dedication of the first Salute, 
then, according to the ancient custom, he would not accept a second Salute, which 
would protect the first composition. The first composer could then prevent the 
second composer from using the same title even although the second composer's 
melody is entirely different from that of the first composer. 

A case more difficult to prove would be as follows : — If one piper had composed 
for the first time a " Lament for Culloden " in 1908, and another piobaireachd was 
composed in 1910 under the same title ; then the matter would have to be settled 
by a court of justice as to which of the two composers the copyright of that tune 
belonged, or if both could use the same title to different melodies. 

In the event of a publisher getting permission to print tunes on which a copyright 
existed ; if the author or proprietor of such tune or tunes did not sell the copyright 
to such publisher, or assign, or convey it to him in writing, then the copyright of 

156 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

such tune or tunes would not be the property of such publisher, because he is 
publishing by permission only. 

If any author composed six original piobaireachd, and someone got hold of 
and published them before the author who was the actual owner of the tunes, then 
the copyright would not be the property of the publisher, who printed without 
authority. But before taking legal proceedings, the author or actual owner would 
first have to publish his tunes. 

In the event of competitions for the composition of the best original pipe- 
tunes, and an intimation was inserted in the columns of a newspaper by any person, 
society, or games committee that the conditions of the competition were that all 
tunes submitted for competition, whether they won a prize or not, became the sole 
property of such person, society, or games committee, along with the copyright. 
If the competitor did not state in writing that he agreed to the disposal of the copy- 
right of his tune under such conditions when submitting it for competition, then 
such person, society, or games committee would have nothing to prove that they 
were the sole proprietors of the copyright of such tunes. The Musical Copyright 
Act makes no provision for such competitions, and the matter of proprietorship of 
the copyright of tunes obtained under such conditions would more than likely have 
to be proved and decided by a court of justice, even if they were published. 

Sometimes in musical plays all rights are reserved. That is to say, no person 
or persons can copy, reproduce, perform, or use such play in any shape or form 
without special permission granted by the owners of the copyright. In many songs 
the right of performance only is public. No one would be allowed to write such 
songs in any manner different to that in which they are published by the owner of 
the copyright, or copy, reprint, or sell them. 

The rights reserved by the owner of the copyright of pipe music are the privilege 
to print, reprint, write, rewrite, copy, alter, or re-arrange any of the tunes contained 
in any volume of original compositions on which a copyright exists. Anyone who 
copies or reprints tunes that are copyright, even if they are given away gratis, is 
liable to prosecution by the owner of the copyright, and those who accept music 
under such conditions, knowing it to be illegally copied or printed, are also liable 
to prosecution. 

Chapter XV 


Bagpipe Case. — A small wooden box about 24 by 7* by 6 inches, made to carry and 
protect the bagpipe from being broken. It is sometimes made of strong 

Bagpipe Hemp. — A very fine kind of thread, manufactured from a plant with a 
fibrous bark, and used for winding round the end of the drones, tuning 
slides and blow pipe, to make them air tight. 

Bagpipe Chanter. — The most important part of the bagpipe, containing the finger 
holes from which the melody is produced. It is 14I inches in length. 

Bagpipe Chanter Reed. — The sounding part in the chanter, about x\l inches long, 
made of well-seasoned cane, and a small copper tube about |f of an 
inch long, both wound with hemp and rosin varnished. 

Bag Seam. — The edge of the pipe bag where it is sewn or joined together, by means 
of a two-fold thickness of the sheepskin being placed over the two 
edges of the skin, and sewn with a strong thread of rosined hemp to 
make the bag air-tight. 

Big Drone. — The longest drone of the Great Highland Bagpipe, about 37J inches 
long, with upper and lower tuning slides and a reed. It is in four 
parts, and supplies the bass accompaniment to the chanter. Its 
sound does not vary unless the performer moves part of the drone up 
or down the tuning slide, or raises or lowers the bridle of the reed. 

Bagpipe Chanter Stock. — The part that joins the chanter to the pipe bag, about 4^ 
inches long. The one end is tied into the bag with a strong string 
made of hemp, covered with rosin. There is a hollow cut out in 
which to place the seam of the bag as well as a groove for holding the 
edge of the bag and the hemp used for tying. The lower end is covered 
with an ivory or silver band. There is a space inside the stock where 
the chanter reed is placed, sufficiently large to prevent the reed 

158 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

touching it, or interfering with the regular current of air required to 
blow the reed to produce the proper sound. 

Blow Pipe. — The pipe or part that is held in the mouth through which the wind 
passes into the bag. It is about 13^ inches long, with a vulcanite, 
ivory, or silver mouthpiece, an air valve, and a stock. 

Blow Pipe Stock. — The part that joins the blow pipe to the bag, about 3 J inches long. 
The top end is covered with an ivory or silver band, and the lower 
end has a groove, into which part of the bag is tied with a strong 
rosined hemp string. 

Blow Pipe Valve. — A small tongue or piece of thin flexible leather attached to the 
lower end of the blowpipe, which opens to allow the wind to pass into 
the bag, and closes by the pressure of the arm on the bag to prevent 
the wind from escaping again by the blowpipe. 

Chanter Holes. — The eight holes bored in the chanter to produce the notes, seven 
in the front, and one at the back. They all vary in size, which is 
necessary to produce the notes at their proper pitch. 

Chanter, High Hand oj. — The left hand, which covers the back hole of the chanter 
with the thumb, being high A, and the first three fingers cover the first, 
second, and third holes from the top, being high G, F, and E. 

Chanter, Lower Hand oj. — The right hand, which covers the four lower holes of the 
chanter, being D, C, B, low A and G. The thumb rests at the back of 
the chanter between C and D. 

Chanter Mouth. — The small hole in the top of the chanter into which the reed is 

Chanter, Sound Holes. — Two large holes bored at right angles with the finger holes, 
about 2\ inches from the chanter sole, required to produce the proper- 
sound of the notes. 

Chanter Top, or Cup. — The thickest part of the chanter top adjoining the stock, 
which should always be held by the hand when removing the chanter 
from its place, because the lower part of the chanter is so thin that 
it is often broken if holding it there when removing the chanter. 

Chanter Sole. — A piece of ivory or silver, 2-£- inches broad and j 5 ff of an inch thick, 
put on the lower end of the chanter to ornament it, with a hole \l of 
an inch in diameter in the centre of it. In the earlier ages the chanter 
sole was made of the same wood as the chanter itself, and was 

The Great Highland Bagpipe and its Component Parts 159 

Cords.— The material which joins the three drones together, usually made up of 

various colours of wool, silk, or fine silver wire and tassels at each end. 
Cover Holes. — Five holes made in the outside cover, three for the drones, one for 

the blowpipe, and one for the chanter, and all ornamented with woollen, 

silk, or silver fringe. 
Drone Barrel. — The inside of the drone after it is bored out. The proper sound 

depends entirely upon the bore. 
Drone Cup, or Top. — The top portion of the drone, which is cup-shaped inside, and 

mounted with ivory or silver. 
Drone Mouth. — The part of the drone into which the reed is placed. 
Drone Grooves. — A small groove cut out in each of the drones to hold the cord that 

connects them. 
Drone Joints. — Joints made in the drones for the purpose of tuning them, where 

the one part of the drone overlaps, or is inserted into the other. 
Drones. — The three pipes or drones, which always produce the same sound, and 

accompany the chanter. Two are tenor and one bass. 
Drone Reeds. — The parts inserted into the drones that produce the sound, made of 

well seasoned cane. The big drone reed is 4 J inches long, and a small 

drone reed is 3S inches long. 
Drone Stocks. — The part of the drone which is tied into the bag at one end, and 

holds that end of the drone where the reed is placed in the other. The 

big drone stock is j\ inches long, and the small drone stocks are each 

5J inches long. One end is mounted with ivory or silver, and the 

other has a small groove to hold the edge of the bag and the rosined 

string that ties it in. 
Dos Mor. — The Gaelic term for the big drone. 
Drone Mounts. — The ornamental parts of the drones, generally made of German 

silver, ivory, aluminium, or silver. 
Ferrules. — Bands made of ivory or silver, placed round that part of the drone that 

overlaps the other, to prevent the outer portion from splitting. 
Fringe. — The ornamental part of the outside cover of the bag, usually made of 

wool, silk, or silver wire. 
Great Highland Bagpipe. — The name applied to Scotland's national instrument to 

distinguish it from the foreign, Irish, Northumbrian, and Lowland 

Inner Bagpipe Cover. — A cover made of house flannel or some other rough material, 

160 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

to go between the bag and the outside cover to absorb the substance 

that comes through the bag. By this means the sleeve of the piper's 

coat as well as the outside cover are kept clean. 
Lower Tuning Slide. — The big drone is the only one that has two tuning slides. The 

lower is the one most often used in tuning the drone. 
Mouthpiece. — The part of the blowpipe which is held in the mouth, usually made of 

vulcanite, ivory, or silver. 
Middle Drone. — The tenor drone, 2o| inches long, between the big and outside 

Neck of Z?«g.— The narrowest part of the pipe bag where the chanter and its stock 

are inserted. 
Outside Bagpipe Cover. — A covering usually made of tartan or velvet, to put the 

sheepskin bag into. 
Outside Drone. — The tenor or small drone farthest away from the big drone, or 

shoulder on which the bagpipe is held. It is 20 J inches long. 
Practice Chanter. — The instrument which the pupil begins with, and on which all 

tunes are played to commit them to memory. Made of ebony or 

African blackwood, and mounted with ivory or silver. It has got an 

upper and lower part, a reed, and eight holes which produce nine notes 

the same as the bagpipe chanter does. 
Pipe Bag. — The portion of the bagpipe that holds the wind, so as to give the performer 

a rest from continual blowing, and by the use of the arm supplies a 

regular pressure of wind on all the reeds. 
Ribbons. — A narrow piece of tartan silk which is attached to the three drones to 

cover the cords that join them together. One ribbon is placed on 

the top and the other below the drones, both of the same length, and 

a portion is draped from the tops of the large and outside drones. 
Rosin. — The solid substance left after distilling the oil from crude turpentine, and 

used for covering the hemp that is put on reeds and drone joints. 
Small Drones. — The two tenor drones that accompany the chanter of the bagpipe, 

and are tuned in perfect unison with low A. 
Stock Holes. — 1. The holes cut in the bag into which the stocks are inserted. 

2. The holes in the stocks into which the upper portion of the drones, 

the blowpipe, and the chanter are inserted. 
Testing Corks. — Four corks made of rubber for the purpose of testing the bag to see 

that it is air tight. Rubber is the best material for making the corks, 

The Great Highland Bagpipe and its Component Parts 16 1 

because if they are the proper size and slightly tapered, immediately 
the}' close in the stock they are perfectly air-tight, and can be removed 
with the utmost ease, whereas the ordinary corks often break, and are 
very difficult to extract from the stock. 

Thongs. — Strong hemp strings covered with rosin, used for tieing the stocks into 
the bag. Thin thongs are used for bridles to drone reeds and winding 
round the end of the drone reeds to keep the cane away from the drone. 

Tuning Slides. — The narrow joint on which part of the drone moves up and down 
upon for tuning purposes. 

Tuning Slide Mounts. — Small silver tubes which cover the tuning slides. 

Upper Tuning Slide. — The upper of the two tuning slides used to lengthen or shorten 
the big drone, but seldom used for tuning it. If the bagpipe is in good 
order, the tuning should all be done with the lower slide. 

Chapter XVI 


SEVERAL writers have dealt to a considerable extent with the bagpipe, which 
in one form or another is common to many foreign countries ; and the Great 
Highland Bagpipe has been treated as if it were only one variety of a series 
of crude and imperfect instruments. Such writers have gathered together specimens 
and illustrations of every pipe in the known world to see which of those foreign 
productions the Great Highland Bagpipe is copied from. There are men who are 
willing to rest content and sacrifice all patriotism in connection with the origin and 
construction of Scotland's greatest musical treasures, viz., the Great Highland 
Bagpipe, and its classical music, piobaireachd. Some say that the Highland bagpipe 
came from the far East. Others say that the Romans brought it with them when 
they invaded our shores. We find enthusiasts who inform us that piobaireachd 
was first known to the Irish, and that it originated there ; while others maintain that 
our Ceol Mor was brought from Italy. To crown all, the great MacCrimmon himself 
is said to be a foreigner who arrived in Skye with his mystic instrument, and its 
mighty Theme in a mysterious notation. 

There are several facts, however, that have been overlooked by men of the 
type to which I have referred. When the Scots and Picts invaded Scotland it was 
inhabited by a race of people who populated our Highland glens and straths. 

Have any authentic records come to light to prove that this race of people who 
first inhabited the Highlands were incapable of inventing and constructing their own 
national musical instrument, the Great Highland Bagpipe and its music ? Many 
have attempted to make them out to be imports, but in vain. 

From their nature and construction the Great Highland Bagpipe and its music 
are purely Highland and of Scottish origin. They were found in the Highlands 
of Scotland in the earliest times, and there they must remain as a landmark for 
all time. 

Ii we abide by actual facts we can see that many foreign countries have discarded 
their native pipes and adopted our Great Highland Bagpipe. The foreign pipe has 

The Great Highland Bagpipe and its Origin 163 

never been brought to perfection, and for this reason we find the tribes of the East 
playing to-day on our much-coveted national instrument. 

The adoption of the Highland bagpipe by these foreign tribes affords us ample 
proof that the piob mhor is foreign to them ; because they do not play its music 
with the same pathos and Celtic accent as we do. The native Indian soldiers 
play our Highland bagpipe, but their renderings of our native tunes are void of 
Celtic flavour. The instrument and its music themselves prove their origin, and 
its spirit deceives the foreigners who have adopted it. 

Another important instance worthy of quotation is the fact that when the 
Highlander goes to a foreign country, he takes his Great Highland Bagpipe with 
him. It forms part of his outfit. He is at home wherever he goes if he possesses 
his native musical instrument. If the pipe of sunny India were more perfect than 
the Highland bagpipe then the Highlander would adopt it. If the music of that 
burning clime were sweeter than his own native airs, then he would close his Ceol 
Mor, and it would remain a sealed book for ever. If the mountain Theme of the 
Himalayas could touch the finer emotions of the Highland heart to a more extreme 
degree than " Roderick Mor MacLeod's Salute ; " incite him to battle like " The 
Gathering of the Clans ; " or tap the fount of tears like " Queen Victoria's Lament," 
then the foreign music would be superior to that which he had been accustomed to 
hear in his youth in his own Highland home. 

All patriotic Highlanders will admit that we rejoice because there is no music 
so rich and full of charm as our Ceol Mor. No Indian theme can equal " The Glen 
is Mine ; " no African chant can compare with " The Blind Piper's Obstinacy ; " and 
no Italian lay will ever surpass " MacCrimmon's Lament." 

Is the Great Highland Bagpipe a musical instrument ? Is its music barbarous 
and meaningless ? These questions are asked only by those who are total strangers 
to the Great Highland Bagpipe, and entirely ignorant of its powerful music. 

That the organ, the piano, and the harp are musical instruments is an undoubted 
fact, but let us now turn the tables in order to consult the mystic minstrel of 
Caledonia, and see what he has found out about the three musical instruments 
quoted above ? The organ and piano are incomplete. They are being improved 
upon and altered in mechanism every day. The harp has been laid aside for cen- 
turies, and practically forgotten. 

On the other hand, the Great Highland Bagpipe is complete, and has been for 
many years. 

The organ and the piano send forth their numerous notes, and the harp produces 

164 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

soft melodies, but all these have little effect on the emotions of the Celtic people. 
What use would the organ be in the time of war ? How could the piano be utilised 
on the march to victor}' ? Would the timid notes of the harp turn the tide of battle 
in the hour of danger, or lead our Highland armies on to brave deeds ? No ! Those 
instruments cannot compare with the Great Highland Bagpipe as a national instru- 
ment in peace or war. 

In the opinion of the Lowlander the orchestral instruments of the opera har- 
monize with one another and produce melodies that only attract their attention for 
the moment. But they declare that the Highland bagpipe is not a musical instru- 
ment because it will not come into concord with those lighter instruments, and on this 
account they arrive at the mistaken conclusion that Ceol Mor is a barbarous music. 

The cornet has no charm in itself ; the clarionet only forms a fractional part 
of the numerous instruments of the band ; and the conductor's wavering baton is as 
silent as the stillness of the night. 

The Great Highland Bagpipe requires no accompaniment. The individual 
piper is complete in himself, and when he is increased by a hundred-fold the sight 
and sound are glorious. Then the powerful blast proclaims the supremacy of a 
national instrument, and the chanters of those kilted minstrels herald their approach 
as they pour forth " A Hundred Pipers an' a', an' a'." 

I have no hesitation in laying the masterpieces of the great MacCrimmons along- 
side the productions of Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Wagner, 
as a challenge of comparison in classical music. 

Handel, who was perhaps one of the greatest of those foreign musical com- 
posers, was born in 1684, and spent most of his life in England ; his most famous 
compositions are " Israel in Egypt," and the " Messiah." Although those two 
great masterpieces of Handel's are produced on an instrument with a greater 
compass of musical sounds than the Highland bagpipe, still there are special 
features about Ceol Mor of equal, if not greater importance. 

In piobaireachd we have as many as twenty different variations, all skilfully 
and ingeniously constructed by the genuine Highlander, and it is of still greater 
importance to note that the intricate movements in piobaireachd cannot be repro- 
duced upon any other musical instrument in the world than the piob mhor. When 
we think of it, that a whole volume can be written on the word " piobaireachd " 
itself, the wonder grows, and proves that the classical music of the Great Highland 
Bagpipe contains a fountain of inspiring melodies that supply the Themes which alone 
can satisfy the aspirations of the Gael in the time of joy and sorrow. 

Chapter XVII 


TO keep the Great Highland Bagpipe in perfect going order one thing is essential, 
viz., that it should be played for at least an hour every day. 
The bag is a very important part in the bagpipe, and every piper should 
know thoroughly how to treat it. The best method of understanding all about the 
bag, when a new one is purchased, is to begin by fixing the stocks into it. This 
serves many good purposes. It saves sending the stocks to the bagpipe maker by 
post, a great advantage when ordering from foreign countries. It is a very simple 
thing to tie the stocks into the bag. First mark off the places for the stocks of the 
three drones and the blowpipe, care being taken when cutting the holes, not to pierce 
any other part of the bag with the knife. The holes which are made for the stocks 
should not be too large, about five-eighths of the size of the stock itself. The 
sheepskin is very moist with the curing substance which remains in it, and stretches 
sufficiently to allow the stock to be put into its place, leaving a portion of the bag 
over the groove of the stock to be covered with the rosined thong used for tying it in. 
If one end of the thong is attached to some fixed object, and the other coiled round 
a small piece of stick, great pressure can be put on it. The rosin does not allow 
the thong to relax its hold when once tightened, and this permits of it being wound 
round the stock several times with perfect ease. If part of the bag covers the groove 
at the end of each stock there should be no difficulty in making it air-tight. The 
stocks for the drones and blowpipe should be slipped into the bag at the mouth, 
or place which holds the chanter stock, and then put into their respective places 
from the inside of the bag. The end of the stock that is tied into the bag should 
never be inserted from the outside. The chanter stock is the only one that may 
cause trouble, and the seam of the bag must be placed into the hollow at one side 
of the stock. Then put all the pressure possible on a double thong, and after winding 
it several times round the portion of the bag that covers the stock, in all probability 
the bag will be found air-tight. After having inserted the five stocks, then proceed 

1 66 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

to test the bag. This can be done by putting the blowpipe into its stock, and a 
small rubber stopper into each of the other four stocks. Moisten the bag inside 
with some pure treacle, say half a dessertspoonful ; blow into the bag till it is full 
of wind, and it should be quite air-tight. If it is not tight the leak can be detected 
by placing the stocks to the ear, and the wind will make a noise while escaping. 
Should a leak be found the stock or stocks must be tied in again more tightly. When 
the bag has been in use for some time, and the pipes are stiff to blow, there are two 
things possible, and either of them may cause a considerable escape of wind. If 
the reeds are very dry and open, sometimes as much wind escapes through them 
as would keep a set of pipes going alone. After laying the pipes aside for two or 
three months the bag becomes very dry, and more especially at the seam where 
it is sewn. In this case test the bag with the blowpipe and stoppers. If it is leaking 
use treacle to moisten and swell the sewing of the seam as well as the pores in the 
skin ; and if the bag is not too old it will become perfectly air-tight. If the wind is 
escaping by the reeds, moisten them and replace the old bridles by new ones, when 
they will come back to their normal state, and the pipes will go with ease after a 
little playing. 

In no case should tallow, grease, or oil be put into the pipe bag for seasoning, 
because they all throw moisture on the reeds and ultimately stop them. Pure 
treacle is the best and most hygienic substance for making the bag air-tight. Care 
should be taken, however, not to put in too much, as it will either soak through the 
bag and spoil the cover, or run down into the chanter stock and interfere with the 

The bag is made of sheepskin, specially tanned for that purpose. Sheepskin 
is the best material possible to be found for making the bag, because it absorbs a 
considerable amount of moisture and takes it away from the reeds. When the 
pipes are allowed to lie without playing the bag dries sufficiently to enable them 
to be played again the following day, without getting too wet. Several attempts 
have been made to invent a rubber bag, but without success. Rubber will never 
fill the place of sheepskin for making the pipe bag, because rubber condenses the 
breath into water in about half-an-hour, and stops the reeds, whereas the 
bagpipe with a sheepskin bag can be played for hours without interfering with the 

The next thing of importance in preventing an escape of wind from the bag 
is the hemp on the ends of the drones, the end of the blowpipe, and the top part of 
the chanter, where they are inserted into the stocks. Hemp slightly rosined should 

How to Keep the Great Highland Bagpipe in Order 167 

be put next the wood on all parts requiring tightening, as it prevents the hemp 
from moving or locking when removing the joint if the pipes are very dry. Always 
finish off with clean hemp towards the top, and see that the part inserted is not too 
tightly put in, as this will prevent the stock from splitting. A little mutton fat or 
dripping should then be put on the top of the hemp. It will make the joint moist, 
easy to remove, and perfectly air-tight. 

A most important part about the blowpipe is the valve, used for preventing the 
wind from escaping unnecessarily. It is a very simple matter to replace the valve 
when it is old and worn out. If the pipes have been laid past for six months without 
being regularly played, even although the valve is good, it often cracks at the part 
where it is attached to the blowpipe and breaks off altogether. In any event, ow'ng 
to the time necessary to put right an old or very dry valve, it is easier to replace it 
at once with a new one. To replace the old valve, get a thin piece of upper leather 
and shape out a new one, leaving a small strip at one side to fit into the groove on 
the side of the blowpipe. See that the valve is slightly narrower than the end of 
the blowpipe so that it will have sufficient room to move up and down as the air 
goes into the bag. When satisfied that the valve is completely air-tight, insert the 
blowpipe into its stock. One of the difficulties which pipers often find about the 
blowpipe valve is, that they do not allow it to hang or droop downwards. If the 
blowpipe is inserted into its stock and the valve opens down it is much more difficult 
to raise in order to keep in the wind, than it would be simply to close the valve if 
it were hanging down. In the case of the valve hanging down one has only to use 
the arm slightly, and it is closed ; whereas if the part of the valve which is attached 
to the blowpipe is turned so that the valve falls back, or in line with the lower edge 
of the blowpipe, then the valve has to be blown upwards, which requires far more 
pressure to keep it up to prevent the wind escaping. 

The tuning slides should also be carefully attended to at regular periods in 
order to see that they are neither too tight nor too loose. When replacing hemp 
on the portion that is inserted into the upper part of the drone, rosin should be 
put on the hemp next the wood. This prevents the hemp turning round on the 
slide, or locking if the joint is too tight. Always finish off winding with clean hemp, 
and put a little grease on the top of it. The joint will then be air-tight, and 
the upper portion of the drone will be more easily moved up or down when tuning. 
Mutton fat is recommended because it does not swell the hemp. 

Metallic joints are used nowadays, and approved of by several pipers and bag- 
pipe makers. Metal is supposed to be more suitable for tuning joints than the use 

1 68 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

of hemp, but it is only supposition, for this is not the case. There are several 
varieties of metallic joints used, but after considerable wear they become too open. 
The greatest disadvantage is that the upper part of the drone must be tubed with 
metal, which interferes with the reeds. The moisture lies in beads on metal tubing, 
and for this reason the sound of the drone reeds is affected. There is no substitute 
equal to hemp as a material for filling up the space in the tuning joints, because 
it can always be added to, or taken from at a moment's notice. If every piper were 
a bagpipe maker and always played in the vicinity of the workshop, then, in the 
case of repairing a metal joint, there might be less delay. But, on the other hand, 
the individual piper often plays in the festive hall and on the mountain side, where 
hemp is his best friend on many an important occasion. Thus the majority of 
pipers adopt the hemp-covered slides now as in the olden days. Like the sheepskin 
bag, the hemp must remain in its old place, having been proved by experience. 

The chanter is the most delicate part of the bagpipe, and great care must be 
taken when handling it. In removing the chanter from its place the stock should 
be held in the left hand, and the cup of the chanter in the right hand. Never remove 
the chanter by taking hold of it at the high holes, because it is so thin that it may 
break right across. The chanter should always be as tight in its stock as will prevent 
it from falling out when hanging downwards as the piper blows up his pipes. If the 
chanter falls on a stone floor, or on the edge of the sole, no matter where, an ivory 
sole will smash in pieces. 

The chanter and drone reeds are of great importance, and they should be 
carefully studied and understood, more especially by young pipers. The chanter 
reed is a very delicate article, and it should be handled as little as possible. Many 
pipers spoil a good chanter reed by beginning to scrape and cut at it when it is a little 
hard to blow. This is a great mistake, because very often when a reed is scraped 
and cut down in order to make it easy to blow, it is spoiled altogether. If the piper 
plays a new reed for about half-an-hour at a time it will soon come in, and have a fine 
solid tone. When the chanter reed is too sharp it must be raised a little. If it is 
too flat then it should be lowered. Sometimes the bag throws a lot of water on the 
chanter reed, and if the water finds its way down the inside of the chanter the sound 
of the high notes will be affected, and the reed will be too sharp. The best method 
of preventing the bag from becoming too wet is to allow it to dry over night, with all 
the stocks open, and also dry the chanter reed. 

The drone reeds also require a good deal of attention to see that they produce 
a good tone. When the drones are tuning too high up, then raise the bridles of the 

How to Keep the Great Highland Bagpipe in Order 169 

reeds and they will tune further down. If they tune too far down lower the bridles 
and they will tune higher. If the bag is too full of moisture after playing for an 
hour to an hour-and-a-half on end, sometimes the reeds get filled with moisture 
and the drones begin to bubble. This is because the bagpipe has been played too 
long at one time. The bag and reeds are too wet, and they all require to be dried. 
Take out the drone reeds and rub them smartly between both hands, after blowing 
the water out of them, and they will become quite dry. The drones should be taken 
out of the stocks, and left over night to allow the bag to dry. In the morning the 
drones and reeds should be replaced to prevent the instrument from becoming too dry. 

In order to get the best results from drone reeds, a good plan is to cut the rosined 
bridles off them when they are new, and open the tongue up a little. Then put on 
new bridles of strong hemp alone. By doing this the bridle is more easily moved 
up and down, and the opening up of the tongue prevents the reed from stopping. 
Very often rosined bridles grip the tongues too close, and this keeps the reed from 
playing properly and having a clear tone. 

The drones should always tune down the longer they are played. That is to 
say, after playing half-an-hour, and the upper part of the drone is about halfway 
down the slide, it should not require to be put up again, say half-an-inch. Drones 
with brass tubes often require to be tuned up, but if the drones are not tubed with 
metal, and the reeds are right, they should not require to be tuned up after playing 
for the space of time indicated above. One of the reasons for the drones tuning up 
after being played for a short time is, that the bridles on the reeds become too loose 
if the pipes have not been played for some time previously. In this case the rosined 
hemp on the end of the reeds should be tightened, and new bridles put on. If this 
is done and a little sealing wax is put on the closed end of the reeds they will go all 

There is nothing more disagreeable to the listener or performer than badly-tuned 
pipes, and nothing sounds sweeter than the piob mhor when it is in good going order. 
One sometimes hears pipers saying that the pipe chanter reed should be tuned to 
certain keynotes on the piano. This is absurd, and the reasons are as follows, viz. : — 
Because the bagpipe is a wind instrument, and the piano is a tone-producing instru- 
ment from metallic strings or wires. Although both instruments could be tuned 
in unison with each other on any key, the bagpipe notes would vary, whereas the 
notes on the piano would always be the same. For instance, the sound of a note 
all depends upon the pressure of wind put upon the reed, and all pipers do not blow 
alike. Some blow hard, while others blow weak. Now, if a chanter reed is tuned 

IJ6 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

to the piano, say A major as it ought to be, by a man who was a weak blower ; when 
the piper who is accustomed to a stiff reed begins to play the weak reed, it would 
be out of tune. The other way about would apply to a man who plays a strong reed. 
The weak blower would not bring the proper sound out of it, and what sound he 
did produce would be more or less unsteady. Even if it were possible to tune the 
bagpipe chanter to the same notes on the piano, on playing the pipes for an hour 
on end they would not tune in unison with the piano when the hour is over, as they 
did to begin with ; because the heat or cold, and moisture have an effect on the 
reeds of the pipes, and tend to make them sharp or flat. Whereas there is nothing 
to affect the notes on the piano. 

Another reason why it is impossible to tune the bagpipe chanter reed to the 
piano is because the volume of sound from the chanter is so great that it would 
entirely drown the sound of the piano altogether. Under such circumstances they 
can never agree, nor can the one be taken as a standard by which to tune the other. 

The Great Highland Bagpipe stands alone in this respect, that a fully qualified 
piper would no more think of carrying, or using an instrument to enable him to 
tune his chanter reed, than he would have the music of the piobaireachd which he 
is playing stuck on the blowpipe to keep him in mind of the tune. 

The most valuable and best equipment that any piper can have is a good ear. 
If the ear is defective, then there is no hope of one's success as a musician of any 
kind. Apart altogether from not being able to tune his pipes properly, a piper with 
a defective ear can never keep good time, which is a most important thing in the 
performing of piobaireachd or any other class of pipe music. 

The best test of a piper's capabilities in putting a set of pipes in perfect going 
order is to strip the bagpipe of all reeds, and make him fit them up with new ones, 
tuning them by ear alone. The old pipers with twenty or thirty years' experience 
can make almost any reed play. They are so accustomed to setting pipes and reeds 
of all sorts going that they are seldom or never beaten. The pipers of mature years 
are the best players, and they are the medium through which the rising generation 
of performers on the Highland bagpipe should expect instructions and guidance, 
so that the young may follow in the footsteps of the old masters. 

It is customary in pipe bands to have one chanter reed set in perfect tune, and 
then bring the others into unison with it, so that the whole band may play like one 
man. But every piper, if he is a master of the instrument, should be able to tune 
his own pipes and have them going in a happy medium, i.e., neither too sharp nor 
too flat, but the proper pitch between the two. 

How to Keep the Great Highland Bagpipe in Order 171 

It takes young pipers several years to become acquainted with every detail 
about the bagpipe, the art of pipe playing, and the nature and construction of pipe 
music ; but as time goes on, by persevering they will come up to the same standard 
of excellence as that acquired by those who have a life-long experience. 

When reeds are too old they become flat and void of tone. In fact, they are of 
a decaying nature, always being saturated with moisture after continuous playing. 
For this reason reeds should not be played after they become dull in tone, or what 
one would call spiritless. No piper can expect to get a brilliant ringing tone from 
his pipes unless he uses the very best reeds and keeps them in good condition. The 
difference between performing on the bagpipe with old reeds, and those just brought 
into perfect form is that, when the piper attempts to play the bagpipe with old reeds, 
the sound is dull and lifeless. For this reason his performance is often brought to 
a speedy close. Whereas, performing on the pipes with perfect reeds, the fingers 
seem to rise and fall of their own accord, and the piper has no desire to stop, but 
feels as if he could go on playing for ever. 

Chapter XVIII 

THE kilt and the pipes ! There are few words in the whole of the English 
language that thrill the hearts of the Celtic people like the " kilt and pipes." 
The one would be incomplete without the other. In fact, they are so closely 
related that they are inseparable. One may wander the wide world over and never 
see a dress among all the gorgeous uniforms to compare with the national Highland 
garb, so picturesque and stately. Wherever the Celt, with his kilt and pipes is to 
be found, his fellow-countrymen admire him. On foreign shores the " skirl " of the 
pipes is the sweetest of all music in the Highlander's ear, and his heart aye warms to 
the " tartan." The fluttering pennons streaming from the great warpipe, and the 
magic notes of the chanter, float in the western breeze in becoming harmony as the 
piper paces to and fro in the calm summer evening under an azure sky, tinged with 
a golden hue. The thundering notes of the " Gathering of the Clans" awakens 
every Highlander to think of the olden days, and of Scotland's chivalry and romance. 

How much does our nation owe to the Highland dress, and to our forefathers 
who wore it in the time when the glory and honour of our country were at stake ? 
We must remember that in the hour of battle the cannons roared, and the mountains 
trembled under the heavy fire from the enemy ; but the brave sons of Caledonia 
stood in their native dress, calm and fearless. On many a gory battlefield the piper 
played his comrades on to victory, and feared no foe. 

From the time of Robert the Bruce down to the historic rising of '45, countless 
numbers of Scotland's bravest men yielded up their lives for the protection of their 
native country, the preservation of their native dress, and the cultivation of their 
native manners and customs. On these battlefields, which will ever remain a land- 
mark and an illustrious page in the annals of Scottish history, there lie the remains 
of the gallant Chieftain and his clansmen, whose tartan kilt and plaid were steeped 
in the blood of the brave. 

The great Napoleon himself admired the Highland kilted regiments of the 
British forces upon the field of Waterloo. He is believed to have exclaimed, that if 

The Full Highland Dress and its Influence 173 

he had had men of the same grit and heroism he would have conquered the world. 
This is a compliment that will be handed down to posterity, and we, the descendants 
of those gallant Highland soldiers who fought upon that field of victory, will always 
don the kilt with patriotic pride, and preserve untarnished the honour of our King 
and country. 

Our first and noblest duty, as loyal subjects, is to uphold and maintain the 
honour of our gracious King. If we do that, and are prepared to enter the field of 
victory or death, if occasion requires us, as the clansmen did of old, then the welfare 
of our nation, our national dress, and Highland customs will be ever near to our 
hearts, and the inhabitants of the greatest empire in the world would live in perfect 

This illustration is borne out by the fact that at the time when no other dress 
was known to the Highlander but the kilt, every clansmen rallied under the banner 
of his Chief, and Chieftain and clansmen alike followed and fought for Bonnie Prince 

The bosom of the fair Flora MacDonald heaved under the Royal Stuart tartan 
as she clasped the quivering hand of the prince in a tender, last farewell. 

Surely this is sufficient evidence to prove that the great drama of our empire 
has been performed in no small degree under the influence of " The Garb of Old 
Gaul." The genuine Celt has played his part in every act, and still survives, yearning 
to follow in the footsteps of his heroic fathers. 

The Highlander enjoyed the privilege of wearing the kilt, his native dress, for 
an unbroken period of years from time immemorial down to the rising of '45. But, 
alas ! after that date the wearing of it was forbidden, and for a time the Highlander 
was deprived of the greatest treasure which adorned his stately form in the hour 
of war and peace. Happily the dark cloud which appeared upon the horizon after 
'45 had a silver lining, for soon after that date the Highland garb was restored to its 
original possessors. The great Montrose was chiefly responsible for bringing the kilt 
back to use again ; and even to-day we have reason to bless his name in the very 
highest degree. 

The kilt is a dress of so great antiquity that its origin is hidden far beyond the 
ken of the best and most learned authorities. It has lived through endless ages and 
vicissitudes, and still survives as our own peculiar inheritance. This picturesque 
garb was worn in the olden days by the humblest Highlander, and within recent years 
it has adorned the most illustrious personages of the British empire. His Royal 
Highness the Prince Consort and King Edward VII., both wore the kilt when resident 

x 74 

Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

in Scotland, and to-day when His Majesty the King comes to his Highland home, 
the kilt is his favourite dress. The kilt is both hygienic and comfortable, and owing 
to its lightness, by wearing it as an everyday dress in the olden times, the Highlander 
could walk long distances o'er moorland and fen ; through glens and corries, and ascend 
the loftiest mountains and rugged crags with the utmost ease. Even the castle, 
with its lofty battlements, is incomplete without the mystic minstrel dressed in his 
native attire, discoursing war-like lays from his Ceol Mor. 

There are many parts about the full Highland Dress, and the following is a 
complete list, as well as a few hints which may be of interest to those who wish to 
adopt it : — 


The Kilt. 


Waist Belt. 


Kilt Pin. 






Cross Belt. 










Garter Knots. 


Powder Horn. 


Skean Dhu. 




Brogues, or Shoes. 




Brogue, or Shoe Buckles. 


Two Pistols. 









1. The Kilt is the most important item of the Highland Dress, and it requires 
from eight to ten yards of tartan to make it so that it will lie properly. Many 
tailors cannot make a Kilt. There are only a few who can make it to the best 
advantage, and, as a rule, they make a speciality of it. The pattern of the tartan 
should be shown in the back, or pleated part of the Kilt, to appear as if the tartan 
were plain without any pleats at all. In earlier years the Kilt and Plaid were in one, 
but it is much more convenient to have them separated. In fact, the long Plaid 
is very old, and it could not be attached to the Kilt in any way. We often hear 
people talking about the best method of putting on the Kilt. To kneel down, and it 
should be clear of the floor. This is to guide the wearer as to the right length or 
position of the Kilt. The Highlanders of old required no such performance or 
guidance in putting on their native garb. They could dress in the Kilt with the 
utmost ease, and so can any Highlander of to-day. If one is accustomed to wear 
the Kilt, he can put it on right away, and when it is tightened properly round the 
waist, it gets into position of its own accord. The Kilt should come well in at the 

The Full Highland Dress and its Influence 175 

waist and lie over the hips, which keep it in its proper place. The best figure for the 
Kilt is the waist slightly narrow so as to show the form of the body. In all cases the 
Kilt should be neatly put on before it can appear to advantage upon the wearer. 

2. There are many fine specimens of Kilt Pins in use, both antique and modern. 
Some very artistic designs will be found in " M'lain's Clans," and " Highlanders at 
Home." The greatest favourite is the plain Safety Pin made of silver wire. The 
Pin is used for the purpose of fastening the two aprons of the Kilt together. It is 
worn in the right hand corner of the upper apron, about six inches from the lower 
edge of the Kilt, point downwards. 

3. The Sporran forms a very pretty as well as useful ornament of the Highland 
Dress. There are many forms of it to be found, but the most common full dress 
Sporran is made of white goat's hair and skin, and usually mounted with silver. 
Sporrans are often made of other materials, such as white buff leather, or sealskin. 
The morning-dress Sporran is made of buckskin, pigskin, otter, or polecat skins, 
and various other materials, with ornamental brass heads in some cases. In the 
olden days the Sporran was used as a purse for holding money, and Rob Roy used to 
have his one well filled with the cash he gathered in his romantic exploits as a 
Highland freebooter. 

4. Full-dress Hose are made in patterns to correspond with the tartan worn by 
the various clansmen. Morning-dress Hose are made of many colours of wool, 
according to the taste of the wearer, with fancy tops. The top of the Hose should 
rest in the hollow just above the calf of the leg, and about three-and-a-half or four 
inches below the centre of the knee-cap. Evening Hose are not so apt to be folded 
too far down, but often one can see the top of the morning Hose so far folded down 
that there is about an inch of space between the top of the Hose and the leg. This 
method of putting on Kilt Hose is slovenly and unbecoming to the Highland dress. 
In adjusting the top of the Hose it should always lie close on the leg, both for comfort 
and appearance. 

5. Garters are generally made of wool, knitted into strips, or pieces, about 
eighteen inches long, and about an inch broad. Various other materials are used in 
making Garters, such as leather and elastic, but woollen ones are by far the most 
comfortable. They are not tied in knots, but simply worn round the leg. One end 
is placed next the Hose, the rest of the Garter is wound round the leg, and the other 
end is put in below the folds of the Garter to keep it from coming off. The woollen 
Garter does not contract like elastic, and it is less apt to hurt the leg than leather. 

6. In the time of Prince Charlie the Garters and Garter Knots were in one. 

176 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

That was when the Hose with ornamental tops were worn without being folded down. 
In our time they are separated, and thus they are more easily adjusted to the proper 
length, as well as any Knot being worn with any Garter. Garter Knots should not 
be worn too long, but of medium length. For evening, or full dress, the colour of 
the Knot should correspond with the Hose. For morning Hose, usually plain red, or 
green garter Knots are worn, whatever the colour of the Hose may be. 

7. Skean Dhu, i.e., " The Black Knife." It is worn purely as an ornament 
nowadays. In the time when the Clan system was at its best, the " Black Knife " 
was used in self-defence. When deer stalking on the mountain side, it was used 
for skinning the deer, and various other purposes. The Skean Dhu is worn in the 
stocking top of the right leg, with about two inches of it visible. The upper portion 
of the Skean Dhu is made of carved ebony, and sometimes dark brown deer's horn, 
with an ornamental silver head, inset with a cairngorm. The sheath or scabbard is 
made of black leather, and mounted with silver. The blade is 3! inches long, and 
made of ornamented steel. The top part of the Skean Dhu is often made of white 
ivory, with brown leather sheath, but this is outwith the original colour and meaning 
of the " Skean Dhu," or " Black Knife." The ivory head would make it " Skean 
Gheal," meaning the " White Knife." 

8. Brogues are worn with the Kilt for morning or evening dress. They are 
made of very fine leather, and the uppers are ornamented all round the sewn parts, 
with various-sized punch holes. They are fastened across the instep with a narrow 
leather strap and silver buckle, or laces made of silver wire. 

9. The Brogue or Shoe Buckles are only worn with full evening dress. The 
morning dress Shoes are worn quite plain. The Buckles are attached to the uppers 
of the Brogue, just in the hollow below the instep. They should not be worn too 
near the toe, as they look out of place. The Buckles are made of silver, and orna- 
mented or engraved with ancient Celtic designs. Sometimes they are studded with 
Scotch pebbles, which throw out a fine lustre in the sun or night light. 

10. The Coat for the full Highland Dress is usually made of black cloth, but 
often pipers have it made of green cloth or velvet. When the Chieftain has two 
family tartans, in some cases the Kilt is made of one and the Coat of the other. The 
Coat is either made in the doublet or Prince Charlie style, with silver buttons. The 
Chieftain does not often wear silver braid on his Coat, although in many instances 
family pipers do. The Highland Chieftain always wears an open Coat and Vest for 
full dress, but, of course, in the olden days, fashions varied. Pipers often wear a 
Coat with a Collar close to the neck, covered with silver braid. 

The Full Highland Dress and its Influence 177 

11. The Vest worn with the Kilt is usually black, if the coat is, but plain red, or 
tartan to match the Kilt, is very fashionable, with silver buttons. In some cases the 
piper wears a Vest made of striped material, representing the family colours. 

12. The Waist Belt is made of very fine leather, plain or embossed with Celtic 
art designs, with a large silver Buckle for fastening it. The Buckle often contains 
the armorial bearings of the Chieftain. As a rule, the Waist Belt will fit any one, 
because it is made in such a way that it can be let out or taken in at the pleasure of 
the wearer by means of a small strap inside. Two hooks are attached to the right 
side of the Belt on which the dirk chains are fastened. 

13. The Dirk is one of the prettiest ornaments of the Highland Dress, and 
many different specimens of it are to be found. It is black like the Skean Dhu. 
The handle is made of black ebony studded with small silver pins, and an ornamental 
head made of silver, inset with a large cairngorm. The sheath, or scabbard, is made 
of black morocco leather, mounted with silver, and contains a small knife and fork, 
with handles of the same design as the head of the Dirk. The blade of the Dirk is 
eleven inches long, and made of ornamental steel. It was used in the feudal times 
in self-defence, and for bleeding the deer when stalking in the forest. The small 
knife and fork were used for luncheon when out on the hillside. 

14. The Cross Belt is made of fine leather to match the Waist Belt, with a large 
silver Buckle, a silver slide, and a silver tip on the end suspended from the Buckle. 
It is worn across the right shoulder, and underneath the Waist Belt on the left side. 
At the lower end there is an eyelet, or small hole, for holding the stud that fixes 
on the Claymore. The Cross Belt is very rarely worn nowadays, but of course, it is 
necessary for full Highland Dress. 

15. There are two different kinds of Plaids, the long, and the belted Plaid. 
The Plaid is made of the same tartan as the kilt, which is worn by the Chieftain or 
clansman. The belted Plaid fastens round the waist, and the end is placed over the 
left shoulder, with fringes all round. The long Plaid is fringed at both ends only. 
It is placed on the left shoulder, with the short end hanging down in front. The 
long end is placed round the back, under the right arm, then under the Cross Belt, 
and over the left shoulder again. Both ends are fastened with a ribbon, or the 
tab on the shoulder top. The short end at the front is turned over the shoulder 
and arm to the back, and the long end is taken from the back over the short one so 
as to cover it. If properly put on the long Plaid will not get out of place even when 
worn a whole day. The long Plaid can be put on straight or with two long and two 
short corners, but it should be folded neatly, otherwise it looks very untidy. The 

178 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

long end should be of medium length. Some hundreds of years ago the Highlander 
wrapped the long Plaid round him during the storm, and often slept all night in it 
in the time of war, when he was closely pursued. 

16. The Brooch is an ornament used for keeping on the Plaid. It also displays 
the handiwork of the Highlander, being made of silver elaborately engraved or 
embossed in various designs, and in most cases a large cairngorm is set in the centre. 
There are some very fine specimens of Brooches in the possession of old Highland 
families, which are very valuable treasures. The Brooch is worn slightly to the front 
of the left shoulder, with the pin turned inwards. 

17. The Powder Horn was used by the Highlander in the time of war when the 
Chief had full power over his clansmen, and also on hunting expeditions on the 
mountains in pursuit of game. The genuine specimen had a measure at the narrow 
end, used for regulating the proper proportion of powder required for one shot. 
There was a small spring which pressed the slide back into its place to prevent the 
powder from getting back into the horn after it was in the measure. The powder 
was then filled into the muzzle of the gun. In our time the Powder Horn is purely 
an ornament, and in many cases not even constructed for actual use. The narrow 
end is often formed into the shape of a thistle, with a blue stone inset, and various 
other designs. The Horn is usually curved, with a silver mount on the thick end 
and a large cairngorm inset. The Powder Horn is suspended from the left shoulder, 
with a heavy silver chain made of antique design. Care should be taken of all 
ornaments with cairngorms in them, not to let them fall when in use as they are 
very easily broken and expensive to replace. 

18. The Bonnet for the Highland Dress is either the Glengarry or Balmoral 
pattern, and each made of one piece of dark blue material, with a small red top in 
the centre. The Balmoral is said to be the older, but it does not suit everyone. 
The Glengarry is a favourite with many Highlanders, because it is lighter. The 
ribbons which hang down the back seem rather useless, but they are the emblem of 
an ancient and noble head dress. The Glengarry is worn slightly turned to the 
right side of the head, with a silk bow on the left side for holding the crest. The 
Balmoral bonnet is also worn to the right side of the head, but not quite so far as 
the Glengarry. The advantage of those types of Bonnets is that they are less apt 
to be blown off in a strong gale than any other kind of head gear. 

19. The Crest forms part of the armorial bearings of the Chief, and is worn 
on the left side of the Bonnet. It is made of silver, usually encircled by a narrow 
band in the form of a strap fastened at the right side with a buckle. The Crest can 

The Full Highland Dress and its Influence 179 

only be worn by the Chief or his liveried servants. Even if a clansman pays the 
necessary tax or duty, it is very questionable if he is entitled to wear it. In bygone 
years the Crest formed a very interesting ornament. 

20. Two Pistols formed part of a Highland outfit some three or four hundred 
years ago. They were doubtless used in the time of war, and also in the hunting 
expeditions which Highlanders were very fond of as a pastime as well as a livelihood. 
The Pistols were usually made of the flintlock pattern, with fine steel barrels, and 
wooden stock, mounted with silver, and sometimes inset with precious stones. They 
were worn in the Waist Belt within easy grasp of the hand if they were required for 
use. Pistols are not worn with the full Highland Dress now, although they are to be 
seen in the bagpipe makers and Highland outfitters' show rooms. 

21. The Claymore was the most important weapon in the time of war when 
one clan met another in deadly conflict. The manufacture of the Claymore was a 
trade by itself, and required great learning and skill to produce a properly-tempered 
blade. The basket hilt of the Claymore was often studded with jewels, and made 
in very fine old designs. On the battlefields the Claymore was the Highlander's 
best friend, and we have records still preserved of great men who could wield the 
sword to good purpose, such as the " Gobhadh Crom," and " Suarachan." The 
Claymore was fixed into the eyelet in the lower end of the Cross Belt, on the left side, 
but it is not worn now as part of the Highland Dress. The piper of old has been 
known to exclaim, " Oh ! that I had three hands, two for the pipes and one for the 

22. The Targe, or Target, is a relic of ancient Caledonia. It was made of very 
strong hide, and studded with brass or silver nails. The Highlanders used it for 
protecting the body when arrows were fired at him by the renowned archers. The 
Targe is neither worn by the Chieftain nor the clansmen now, but MacCrimmon is 
depicted in a scene with one, and his Claymore, as he discourses his War-Theme of 
incitement to battle. 

In our large cities the Highland Dress is worn a little at dinners and inside 
gatherings, but that will never further or promote its use to any extent. Every 
Highlander should wear the Kilt outside on all possible occasions. It is only by 
doing so that the ancient dress of our forefathers can be brought back to use. No 
Highlander is worthy of that name who is ashamed to own and wear his native garb, 
a dress that has no equal for comfort, elegance, and durability, in the opinion of the 

It is a source of gratification to the Celt, however, when he can rest assured 

180 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

that the fire of enthusiasm still burns brightly in the northern Highlands. On 
" the Braes o' Mar," where the standard of Prince Charlie was unfurled about two 
hundred years ago, the time-honoured custom of holding a real Highland Gathering 
is still in vogue. Every year in September, on that romantic spot, the curtain is raised 
on " The Gathering of the Clans," which appears as a dream, or a glimpse of a scene 
performed hundreds of years ago. First come the Balmoral Highlanders with their 
pipers, and each man carrying his Lochaber axe, then the Duff clansmen, and finally 
the Farquharsons of Invercauld, all arrayed in their own tartans. The scene is one 
of the fairest that ever eyes could look upon, and the background requires no artist's 
brush to make it attractive to the audience : for the surrounding forests are gleaming 
in the autumn sunshine, and the great giant peak of " Craig Gowan " is looming out 
in the distance, from which many a royal blaze once lit the valley below. This 
is the holiday of the season in the Mar district, and the Gathering is always graced 
by the appearance of royalty and Scottish nobles. The clansmen and other High- 
landers enter into the various competitions, and one can hear the sound of the 
pipes re-echoed by the surrounding hills. The performers' skill is tested in the art 
of bagpipe playing, and Piobaireachd, March, Strathspey, and Reel have separate 
contests. There are competitions for Highland dancing, and many competitors 
take part in the Highland Reel, Highland Fling, Sword Dance, Shean Triubhas, Jack 
Tar, Hornpipe, and Jig. The stalwart Highlanders toss the caber, and wrestling is 
also engaged in, as well as many other Highland pastimes. The whole area on 
which the Gathering is held has a real Celtic appearance about it, and the atmosphere 
in which competitor and spectator, and Highlander and Lowlander live in for the 
short space of time stimulates a desire to encourage and promote the ancient customs 
and amusements of the Gael. 

Chapter XIX 

ALTHOUGH " Piobaireachd : Its Origin and Construction," forms the major 
and most important part of this work, nevertheless it becomes us to com- 
bine in an artistic harmony our national music, our national dress, and the 
duties which are laid upon the performer on our national instrument. It would 
be out of place to close this volume without linking those three things together in a 
closer union than they have been in the past. If they are inseparable we should 
permit no one to attempt to break them asunder, but let them stand together side 
by side, so that their closer union may mean their better welfare, and the popularisa- 
tion of an ancient music, an ancient instrument, and an ancient garb of which all 
Celts are proud. 

About two or three hundred years ago the Highland piper held a dignified 
position in the retinue of the Chief, and he had a gillie or servant to carry his great 
warpipe. In those days the master of the piob mhor cast his instrument from him 
when he had finished his performance, and his gillie picked it up in case it should 
be broken, or suffer loss by neglect. 

The principle duties of the piper were to waken the Chieftain and his household 
in the morning to the strains of the bagpipe ; to play at Gatherings inside the policies 
or grounds of the castle, and discourse various classes of pipe tunes in the evening 
during dinner. 

The MacCrimmons and several hereditary pipers had schools for instructing 
young pupils in the art of pipe playing, but this was done between the hours at 
which they played at the castle. Every morning the piper played three times round 
the castle. In the time of the MacCrimmons it is said that they only played 
piobaireachd ; but whether or not it is the case that they adhered entirely to Ceol 
Mor is hard to say. The custom in our time is to play Marches, and " Johnny 
Cope " is very often the only tune played in the morning in some instances. Other 
pipers play three Marches, ' ' Johnny Cope " being the first one, and two others to finish 
with. It becomes rather monotonous always to play the same tune, and often a 
change is welcomed, more especially by visitors. In very stormy weather the 

1 82 Piobaireachd : its Origin and Construction 

piper plays inside in the morning, but as a rule pipers prefer to play outside. When 
one gets accustomed to play in severe frost and cold it hardens the fingers, and 
tends to make one able to play outside in all sorts of weather. Those who confine 
their performances on the bagpipe to indoors are unable to play with good effect 
outside in the colder seasons of the year. In the evening the piper plays inside the 
castle during dinner, and one must have considerable practice in the method of 
fulfilling this part of the routine in piping. On all occasions the piper must be 
calm and collected in appearance, and show no signs of nervousness, otherwise his 
performance is void of the usual elegance which follows this trait of Scottish 

Many houses and even castles where a piper is kept are not suited for the 
convenience of having the pipes played inside the dining-room. A good specimen 
of Highland residence, with every modern accommodation, is Abercairny House, 
the property of Captain William Home Drummond-Moray. Abercairny House 
was enlarged by James Moray, Esq., about a century and a half ago. It has a 
great corridor, large swinging doors, and a huge magnificent dining-room. The 
pipes are not played morning or evening when the Chieftain and his family are away 
from home. The piper often travels with his master when visiting, and plays at 
any time when required. In the olden days, in the time of war, the piper was seen 
in the field with his clan, and played lively tunes to cheer and encourage the clansmen. 
At the marriage the mystic minstrel was not absent. When the messenger of death 
came, and the clansmen gathered to pay their last tribute of respect to the Chieftain 
who had departed for ever, the wail of the Lament from the bagpipe mingled with 
the soft breeze as the cortege wound its way to the churchyard in the glen. Before 
the grave closed the sad notes of " Lochaber no more " was the sounding of the last 
post. The Chieftain heard it not, but the solemn dirge tapped the fount of tears, 
for the mourners wept. 

Perhaps there is no position in which the Great Highland Bagpipe has been of 
more service to our empire than in the army, and a short description of the piper's 
duties there may be given as follows : — 

i. Reveille. 4. Meals. 

2. Fall-in. 5. Mess. 

3. Play the regiment to and from the 6. Tattoo. 

field of manoeuvre. 
1. The " Reveille " is played round the square in barracks, or up and down the 
lines of tents when in camp, by the orderly piper at five o'clock in the morning, 

The Piper's Duties in Peace and War 

and to the hurried notes of " Johnny Cope," every man gets out of bed and prepares 
for duty. 

2. The "Fall-in" is played by the orderly piper just before each company 
gets into drill or marching order in the early morning, and various tunes are played 
according to the custom of the different regiments. 

3. The regiment often goes on route march, or requires to march some distance 
before commencing drill, and the whole pipe band has to play the battalion to and 
from the barracks or camp. 

4. The " Meal " pipes are played by the orderly piper before and after dinner. 
" Brose and Butter " is played before dinner is served to the battalion, and 
" Bannocks o' Barley Meal " after the meal is past. 

5. The "Mess" pipes are played in the evening when the officers are dining, and 
five or six of the best pipers in the band play together first, either outside or inside 
the room in the barracks, or the tent in camp. After they are finished the pipe-major 
plays a piobaireachd. When he is finished it is usual for him to stop behind the 
commanding officer, give the Highlandman's toast, and drink to the company's 

6. "Tattoo," or lights out, is the last duty performed by the piper, and it is 
generally played by the whole band, or as many as are on duty, about nine o'clock 
at night. " Soldier, lie down on your wee pickle Straw " is often played for tattoo 
by some regiments. 

Finally we come to the thousands of pipers who play the bagpipe purely for 
the love of the art, and it is their duty to keep alive the most ancient and noble 
pastime of the Gael. The pipers in private life must not be overlooked, because 
they do a great deal to keep piping and pipe music alive at the present day. All 
over the Highlands and in our large cities the individual piper is to be found playing 
on his native pipe and studying its music in his spare hours after his work is over. 
When we hear the pipes playing in the midst of a great city it makes our blood 
course faster, and sets our hearts aglow with real Highland enthusiasm. Although 
we have had to leave the mountain and the glen, as patriotic clansmen we rejoice 
that we have been able to bring our Ceol Mor and the Great Highland Bagpipe with 
us. When we find it necessary to dress in the kilt on high occasions, or on duty, 
as the case may be, we have reason to be proud of three things, i.e., the wearing of 
the Highland dress, the cultivation of pipe music, and the playing of the piob mhor, 
which have all been associated from time immemorial with the deeds that have won 
the empire. 

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